The number of cyber bullying reports continues to steadily climb. People are becoming more creative and are better able to use new technology to do a variety of things with laptops, cell phones and other wireless devices. School internet providers go to great pains to make sure any device used by their system is protected from hackers, but what about the students who access the schools’ internet? What about School Safety?
Measures are also taken to protect students from being targets of unscrupulous adults or older teens. For the most part, school safety measures work quite well, but a large part of the safety issue revolves around the students’ ability to be able to circumnavigate the features implemented by computer IT professionals. When a student is able to turn off the filters and firewalls that protect them, they are vulnerable to individuals outside of the system who may not have the best intentions at heart.
School Internet Policy
A school internet policy is put in place to protect students from visiting websites that may be potentially harmful to themselves or their computers. Pornographic websites, webpages that discuss weapons or any other type of illegal activity are forbidden and access is denied through a series of firewalls and internet filters that prevent specific types of content from being downloaded by the computer.
- A pre-determined time limit depending on the age of the student and the activity they are performing
- No pornographic websites
- No websites that contain inappropriate content, pictures or videos
- No chat sessions that are generated outside of the school’s internet system
- No video chatting
- No music downloads
- No movie downloads
- Limited social media time
Many students, however, have found a way to hack into their school’s internet system, allowing them to visit whatever sites they choose without being detected. Schools that allow their students to access the internet have a strict policy as to what type of sites are considered taboo. Students who have figured out how to access the sites and are caught viewing them can be suspended or expelled from school depending on the nature of the content.
One of the strictest school safety measures when it comes to internet usage is the elimination of the “chat” feature. By blocking a student’s ability to communicate with others outside of the school’s internet system, they can prevent pedophiles and other individuals from having access to minor children. This also prevents students from sharing information between classes concerning tests, quizzes and other school materials.
Internet policies are developed to not only protect the student but also the school. Schools could face liability issues if students gained access to inappropriate websites or had the ability to make purchases online through the school’s system. Students who do not have internet access at home may try to surf the internet using school computers. This is fine, in some instances, but when the material being viewed is of a questionable nature, the parents can hold the school responsible.
School safety measures are continually monitored to determine their overall effectiveness. Computer technology is constantly changing making it more difficult to safeguard students. As technology continues to move forward, students and adults are learning rather quickly to circumvent possible obstacles that may be put in their way. With a little patience and a few hours’ practice, many kids are capable of hacking into a school’s computer system and removing the firewalls that prevent them from searching wherever they choose.
One way of remedying this is to install a keylog program. This would enable school officials to keep track of each keystroke performed on a specific computer. They would be able to track a student’s every move through the letters and keys they pressed while using the device. Some keylogging software is sophisticated enough to record how much time was spent at each individual website. There are problems with many of the keylogging programs, however. Individuals who have downloaded less sophisticated keylogging programs have reported problems with malware and spyware that have infiltrated their systems through loopholes in the program.
School Internet Safety
School internet safety measures are rather straightforward and simple. In most schools, children begin to use computers at an early age. From the very beginning they are taught basic safety measures. Following school safety protocols help them to learn what they should and should not do while they are online. A few safety measures that are continually reinforced are:
- Never share personal information such as name, address and telephone number
- Children should never tell anyone where they are or where they will be at a certain time
- They should never offer their age or where they attend school
- Never visit sites you know nothing about
- Never send pictures, videos or snapshots
- Never offer to chat with anyone
- Never tell divulge passwords or personal log on information
- Whenever a child has an experience they are uncomfortable with, they should immediately talk to an adult and explain exactly what happened.
When schools first introduce computers to students, the computers are already equipped with the programs they need. The children are taught computer basics and allowed to do their lessons and learn how to use different programs. As they become more adept and skilled at navigating through programs, they will eventually be allowed to access the internet. By the time students reach middle school age, they are just as proficient at using the computer as most adults, and can sometimes show up older adults who have used computers for years.
Before the internet is introduced, students are taught safety measures that, hopefully, they will take to heart and follow both in and out of the classroom. In the beginning, students are only allowed to use computers with internet capabilities when a teacher is present. As they pass through each grade, they are given more and more freedom on the school computers. Along with that freedom, comes more responsibility. While most students respect the responsibility they have been give, others tend to push the limits to find out how far they can actually go, surfing the web to sites that are often considered taboo or are known for having inappropriate content.
School Safety Breaches
In the majority of cases, school safety measures are sufficient to protect the students and faculty members who use the schools’ internet. Nothing is fool proof, however, and systems can be hacked from the outside or manipulated from the inside. Students who are technology minded, can find ways to override the school’s safety mechanisms. By changing the privacy settings and removing firewalls and parental control filters, students are able to navigate the internet going anywhere they want. When they eventually log off the net, the system reverts back to default settings leaving little trace that they were ever compromised.
Part of the reason safety measures are so important is to protect children from receiving unwanted attention from strangers. School computer systems are equipped with both parental controls as well as internet safety features that are designed to prevent people from outside the internet system from gaining access. While those features can keep children from entering chat rooms or instant messaging individuals outside of the system, emails can still be sent back and forth between the school system and IP addresses that are deemed to be safe.
If teachers or faculty members notice any type of irregular activity on the behalf of the students or computers begin to act abnormally, it should be reported immediately to the school’s IT department. Because of the way computer systems link together, what affects one computer may, in turn, eventually affect all of them. If the computer system itself has been hacked a virus can spread through the entire group of computers, infecting each one as it goes. The key is to catch it quickly and shut it down before it can infect every computer in the system.
Schools are choosing to supply laptops to students instead of text books. It is believed that this will prove to be much more cost effective in the long run. Along with the convenience of being able to carry only the laptop instead of several heavy text books, the computer option brings several risks as well. Because the laptops can be taken home, the risk of hacking is increased, especially if the student uses an open or unprotected internet connection. While each computer is equipped with safety controls, students who are skilled with the new technology can learn how to maneuver around them. Teaching students the importance of safe internet navigation is mandatory if schools plan on continuing to use the laptops.