With technology evolving as it is with the introduction of social media and schools turning digital, it’s no surprise students of all ages are increasingly online.  Some may say schools have never been safer in years, whilst that may be true in some aspects, statistics show otherwise. A 2018 study stated that 59% of American teenagers had experienced various forms of bullying or online harassment. The internet is completely riddled with a continuous stream of ever-changing websites featuring sexual and violent content and hate speech. As these students are pulling the plug on using books and turning completely digital, they find themselves often accidentally clicking on websites that contain inappropriate pop-up ads and chat portals. Children being naturally vulnerable are the perfect targets for cybercriminals. Being exposed to graphic content at such a young age has detrimental effects on the mental health of these children.  

Students spend an average of 50 hours per week studying at school, and some consider it their second home. Thus, it must make them feel safe which is of utmost importance to any school’s administration since these children are their responsibility. This means that schools must take all necessary precautions to prevent any form of cyberbullying or graphic content from occurring to identify potential threats or safety concerns early. There are multiple programs and software that can help teachers protect and block adult websites and graphic content such as bark, gaggle, and securely to name a few.

For those who are looking at using online monitoring for schools, here are 4 key considerations to ponder: 

  • Make sure that there is an online portal for students to anonymously report concerns and incidents. 
  • Provide digital citizenship lessons to educate students on how to use technology in the safest and most appropriate manner. 
  • Have seminars and parent meetings specifically for families to talk about the importance of internet safety. Teaching parents on how to handle and monitor their children’s online presence is so crucial as being protected in school isn’t enough. 
  • Schools must be transparent and inform parents and the government on the methods they use to monitor their children. 

Some may argue that the privacy of a student is compromised, but it’s better to prevent and protect students before situations like self-harm and other mental issues come into the picture as no parent or school would wish that upon their children. Through the monitoring and blocking of inappropriate websites and keywords, schools can ensure a safe space for students to grow and evolve.  

Contributor: Diya Verghis, Freedom Firm Intern

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