Friday, February 11, 2011

Is filtering at schools ethical?

Reading Reflection #3

It is our job as teachers to protect students while they are in our care.  It seems that many times the filters through the school district block materials that are not harmful or unsafe for children.  It is however dependent to what is being surfed of the Internet.  I remember that some time ago I took a workshop where an adult sight had taken advantage of the “.gov” part of the Whitehouse sight, and used a “.com” domain label to trick students to view their sight.  This type of malicious use of the Web is the reason why we need filters for schools.  So does this limit what we can assign as a teacher or have child learn about?  My answer would be no, as with a classroom with more than one student doesn’t exist.  Only filters can act as a parent to help reduce the amount of objectionable material that exists on the endless Internet, a parent next to their child is a live filter, we as teachers need the electronic filters to act as the parent and protect the student.  We can’t shield our children from everything that they will eventually be exposed to, but as parents we should be given the choice.  We should feel that school is a safe environment.  Filtering material from the Internet is one way to ensure their safety.

As an article from “USA Today” stated we have a legal obligation to filter according to the “Children's Internet Protection Act”.  This doesn’t mean that it makes sense in some cases, but because the certain key words that a filtering program is based on is to exclude sites.  It becomes frustrating to many teachers and students when using the Internet at schools.  However as I stated earlier we must adjust and use home Internet more frequently so that parents can more carefully monitor Internet content. 

There is a multiple amount of computer security threats when using the Internet.  The issues students are exposure to would include objectionable material and predators using instant messaging, chat rooms or blogs to find children and baiting them into conversation, then online relationships or more.  This also continues to safeguard children from “Cyber-bullying” The other types of security risks that filtering safeguards against are computer viruses which “is a program designed to affect your computer negatively without your knowledge or permission” (Shelly, 2010).  Another common type of malicious program would include a “Trojan horse” or a “worm” both are similar to a “computer virus” in which it causes damage to computers, and networks.

This brings to mind how do we guard our computers, since this is one of the biggest investments that we may make in our households?  There are software programs that protect your computer that can be purchased that offer protection from “computer viruses”, “malware”, “firewalls” both software and hardware versions, and include e-mail safeguards from scams such as “phishing”, and “spam” schemes. 

These devastating types of software lead into one last point which is ethic and etiquette.  In terms of ethics most schools have some type of “Internet Policy” or “Acceptable Use Policies” that are a guide to how computer usage is allowable as a privilege to those using a network.  The current world is full of computers which these ethics guide all users from how to abide by copyright and fair use guidelines, to etiquette when using a cell phone.  It is so common to have a cell connected to your ear, more and more the “no cell phone” signs are constantly being posted.  As this technology increases so does the wireless network.  We are in a path of having a completely wireless world, where cell phone providers make it easy to take and use new technology everywhere and anywhere.  In a very short time the emerging technologies will allow handheld tablets and devices, like the “Smartphone”, to be our primary connection to the Internet.  This will create a completely wireless classroom. Books and assessments will be on a tablet.  It will be where students from home or in their seats can complete the same work and the teacher can use the instant assessments that technology brings to give immediate feedback to improve the learning of a diverse classroom.  Then parents can check what their child got on their spelling test from their Smartphone or home device instantly after the test has been given. 

Shelly, Gunter, Gunter (2010) Teachers Discovering Computers Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom Sixth edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
USA Today,  Associated Press (2005) Schools install Internet filters to receive federal money. Retrieved from:


  1. I am so glad that I found someone that I agree with. I feel that schools should block inappropriate objects from students as they explore the internet. If schools allow students to explore the internet, they should take every precaution to protect them. It is also the school responsibility to make sure that the materials that the students are reading are appropriate for their age. As a teacher it is our responsibility to guide our students and teach them the necessary skills they need to surf the internet safely. There are plenty of safe internet sites that are available for teachers can utilize for their lessons. Teachers also have to be careful and supervise their students especially in computer labs. In today’s society, we have students who are technology savvy and they know how to go around firewalls to access certain websites. I also have to agree with you that certain websites have misguided links or URL that will take you to inappropriate site and as teachers we have to be prepared to react and prevent our students from seeing such garbage. The internet is a great tool to utilize in our classroom, but we need to prepared and well trained how protect our students.

  2. You are very correct that teachers do need an automated filter in place to help keep students from being subjected to objectionable online material. I am hopeful that the majority of parents are sitting beside their students when they are surfing the Internet, but I’m not sure that is actually happening on a broad scale. You reminded me how using .com instead of .gov can get you into trouble sometimes on the Internet. An important fact that I must add to this discussion is that as educators we need to teach our students how to be savvy online users who are not easily victimized. You were correct when you said, “This type of malicious use of the Web is the reason why we need filters in schools.”

    The Children’s Internet Protection Act is in place for a very good reason and it emphasizes the legal obligation public entities like public schools and libraries have to protect the innocent from various threats that are out on the Web.

    You brought up some very good points when you mentioned cyber-bullying and the importance of protecting against computer viruses and malicious programs that can cause significant damage to computers and networks. Luckily it is now common for most schools to have in place an Internet Policy and/or an Acceptable Use Policy to help fight the good fight.

    Thanks for bringing up many of the important aspects that relate to this question because it is not a simple one. You did a great job covering all of them in a comprehensive manner.

    :) Ruth