By Aryam Haile
Stone Mountain, Ga.
Grown-ups, envision this: You’re in high school. It’s 2020 and your school has gone virtual. You’re in a Zoom call for U.S. History, and your teacher assigns you to watch a short video on the Great Depression. They send the link in the chat. As soon as you press the link, a red message appears on your screen saying: “Web-site blocked.” In the digital age, many schools have given their students laptops and tablets for online school work. To keep their students safe from mature content, many schools have also implemented website filters on these devices. While shielding students from pornography is important, schools need more precise filters.
Many students have voiced their frustrations on the extensive web-blocking that has prevented them from accessing the information they need to complete as-signments. What good is providing these devices to students if they can’t use them to their full extent?
A vast number of schools use web blocking software that can’t differentiate be-tween inappropriate web-sites and normal content that has no business being blocked. Web filter software uses keywords to determine whether a website is inappropriate, and the simplistic overuse of key-words is doing more damage than good. Schools should lower the number of keywords they consider to be inappropriate. This will allow students to access important, non-harmful websites.
Some may argue that the blockage and filtering of websites are to keep students safe. While websites con-taining pornography should be blocked, schools need to be more careful in how they assess what content is considered mature for students. Giving students access to technology was supposed to increase learn-ing access; extensive web-filtering only acts as another barrier to students and their online education.