Students nowadays are accustomed to using the Internet to research information for assignments or projects, but when they come to school, they are restricted from using certain educational websites due to the school’s WiFi restrictions. These excessive restrictions prohibit students from accessing useful information that could help them learn.
The school restricts students from viewing websites that may be distracting or contain explicit content. However, numerous educational websites are unintentionally swept under these categories; consequently, students cannot access them.
Teachers often provide time in class for students to do research for assignments in order to lessen the amount of research done at home. When schools block educational sites, students are forced to research certain topics on their own time. Students without Internet access at home may rely on class time to make progress on their assignments; however, with web filters, they may find that they are unable to access certain information they need. For example, students may search for pictures for a project, but will find that they are unable to access certain photos because they are classified as “entertainment.”
Also, students are often times expected to gather accurate, trustworthy information from multiple sources for assignments. In this case, when they turn to the Internet for help, filters provide a disservice to students—they are unable to evaluate the credibility of the information without access to a variety of sources.
Though it is important to block certain sites to keep students on task and prevent them from seeing inappropriate content, the school’s web filters are too restrictive. Now, it appears as if the school creates a universal ban on all sites that are the slightest bit related to the content it tries to block. However, some of these sites are potentially educational and useful for students. Web filters should limit distractions and non educational content, not make research more difficult for students.
When attempting to block students’ access to certain material, the school should work towards blocking more specific criteria. Websites should be banned only if they contain explicit content or are meant to distract students from learning.