Internet Safety for Schools
A Quick Guide to Finding the Solution That’s Right for Your School
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12
Internet Filtering Product Guide Schools' and parents' concerns about safe surfing have created a market for products that allow Internet users to control the kind of content they receive on their computers. These various filtering solutions all deny access to a manually created and maintained list of Web sites, called a "not" list. These products rely on vendors' keeping up with the proliferation of "not" sites and adding them to their restricted list.
The major development that has changed schools' filtering requirements is the growth of sophisticated school network infrastructures, linking hundreds or thousands of computers. Any filter that has to be downloaded, installed, and configured on each computer on a large network is not a viable solution for schools with such a network.
Filter Product Links
Below are links to the Web sites of companies offering Internet filter products. The products represented range from single workstation, client solutions to proxy server solutions. Scholastic technical staff have reviewed each product listed here and, while we are not endorsing or rating any of them, we did find all of them met minimal performance requirements. A visit to any of these sites will give you the information you need to inform your search for a filter solution for your school.
Most schools ask parents to sign a permission slip when they add Internet access to the research tools available to students. Most schools also ask students to sign a contract promising to follow an outlined set of rules covering their use of the Internet and their online conduct. These two permission slips — with a statement of what the Internet is and how it will be used in the school setting — are known as an "Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)."
The decision to commit finances for computers and Internet access in individual schools often originates at the district level. As a result, many school districts have taken the initiative in drafting and adopting an Acceptable Use Policy. You may want to check with your district to see if it has a blanket letter your school or classroom should use.
Why Do You Need an Acceptable Use Policy?
Perhaps the greatest concern parents and educators have about Internet access is the possibility that students will encounter material that does not have educational value or that is "objectionable" for other reasons. Establishing your school's Internet policy and rules of conduct up front will help faculty, parents, and students remember that Internet access is a resource privilege, not a right.
We recommend that you read the sample AUP's below before your students head out on the information superhighway. Most importantly, you need to publicize your policy and standards for appropriate Internet use to all members of your school community.
Sample Acceptable Use Policies
- Blach Intermediate School, Los Altos, CA
- Chico Unified School District, Chico, CA
- Kentridge High School, Kent, WA
- Administrative Procedures, Bellingham, WA
- Parent Permission Letter, Bellingham, WA
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was formed in 1994 to develop standards and protocols to facilitate the development of the World Wide Web. One of the Consortium's activities is the development of PICS (Platform for Internet Content Selection), a set of technical standards for labeling Web pages that will eventually allow Internet users to control the kind of content they receive. Every educator involved with Internet use in schools should visit the W3C site and get familiar with their work at http://www.w3.org/.