According to the Pew Research Center, 93% on teens go online. While the use of the Internet has immense benefits in terms of learning and career preparedness, it is important to recognize that the Internet is a public and global medium, and therefore there are inherent risks in using this tool. It is therefore, important, that anyone using the Internet establishes a set of practices to protect themselves while using the Internet. The term that is commonly used to refer to such safety practices is Internet Safety. Internet safety practices usually include practices for protection of your well being (i.e. practices to avoid online predators, online bullying, online harassment, or exposure to offending material online)protection of your personal information (i.e. practices to avoid identity theft or Internet fraud), , and protection of your data (i.e. protection against Internet virus, malware, or other types of infections that produce data loss: your documents, pictures, media, etc).
Parents and students can access the following links to retrieve tips and guidelines relating to Internet safety and begin (continue) the discussion of Internet safety at home:
- Family Online Safety Institute
- National PTA – Internet Safety
- Kids Health – Internet Safety
- FBI – A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety
- Keeping One Step Ahead of Kids in a Mobile World
Web Filtering at Home
The global Internet provides access to a variety of resources including university library catalogs, online databases, and public domain software; making it an excellent tool for research and learning. The types of information available on the Internet, however, are vast, and not all information available on the Internet is educational or appropriate for all ages.
Access to the Internet at school is filtered in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Devices that are part of the 1:1/BYOD program have web filtering enabled at home as well.
However, personal devices at home might not have the same protection as the school issued devices. Families often wonder if there are ways to filter inappropriate content from the Internet while their children use the Internet at home, similarly to what schools do on their networks. The answer is, to no surprise, affirmative. There are several products in the market that could help a family establish a safe Internet environment at home. If as a parent you are interested in seeing what is available, you could start by searching the Internet for “parental controls”, “children internet safety”, or “web filtering” in your favorite search engine.
Typically what you will find are products that work in one of two ways:
- By installing a program/app in each device you want to control (filter); or
- By configuring your home wireless router (usually only one change in your router’s basic config page is needed).
In the first case, you probably want to check whether the company offers a program or app compatible with the type of devices you and your children own (is it compatible with mac? windows? is there an Android app or an iPhone app to filter browsing from your children smartphones?). In the second case, all the devices that use your wireless network will be blocked regardless of their model/make; you may want to check if the product offers a guide/instructions on how to configure your router’s model/brand.
Most solutions provide a “free” option of their offerings, usually with some limitations, but that you can use if: a) the functionality of the free product is enough for you; or b) you want to test if the solution will work for you before committing to it.
Almost all solutions will ask you to create an account in the product’s website in order to be able to manage your devices/network and to tailor what portion of the Internet you want to filter from your children.
Whatever solution you choose for your web filtering needs, it is advisable to always discuss with your children what monitoring tools you are using and reasons behind your decision to protect their Internet access. Web filtering is usually part of a set of “household rules” on how to use the Internet.
District Email Archive
As you know, the Technology Department provides email addresses to both, staff and students of the District.
By law, the school must archive all email communications of their staff (on their school issued email address). And while the law does not require the archival of student email (for those schools that offer email addresses to their students), the district has decided to archive student email communications for the protection and convenience of the students and their parents/guardians.
Graduating seniors typically have access to their email for about a month after graduation. And we keep their accounts retrievable for about six months after graduation. Recent graduates can request from their former Guidance counselor access to their accounts during this initial period after graduation.