Many schools are turning to web filters to help protect students from the dangers of the Internet. A school web filter is an online tool that helps administrators block websites that contain inappropriate content or activities. Of schools with internet access, 96% stated they use various technologies or procedures to prevent student access to inappropriate material on the internet.
What Should Your School Look for in a Web Filter
A good school web filter will allow you to create a controlled environment for your students, which is essential when dealing with kids in every age group. The best way to choose a school web filter is by weighing all of your options before making a final decision on which one works best for your needs. Here are some things you should consider when searching for the right one.
Block Harmful and Distracting Content
A good web filter should be able to block website that contain pornographic material and other types of content that may be harmful for students such as gambling or violent websites. Schools should also opt for a web filter that blocks access to social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter during school hours.
You’ll want to make sure your web filter blocks harmful, distracting, and explicit subject matter. It should be used to prevent students access to a wide range of websites and content, including:
- Sites containing graphic violence, sex, or gambling
- Sites that promote hate speech or discrimination against any group of people like race, religion, national origin, etc.
- Sites that include self-harm information (such as “howtodie”)
- Sites that promote drug use or the sale of illegal goods
Granular rules are the most effective way to create a safe environment, both for students and teachers. These rules will block content based on specific keywords or phrases. This allows you to control exactly what your students are allowed to see online. For example, if you want to block pornographic sites but allow you students access to Wikipedia pages about sex education, granular rules can help you do that. Granular rules can also benefit schools by helping protect students from cyberbullying and other online dangers by enabling administrators to block sites where bullying occurs or where students have reported being harassed.
By contrast, black-and-white rules prohibit certain types of content altogether—like all websites related to sports news or religion—without allowing for exceptions based on keyword searches or individual profiles. This method doesn’t allow for customization because there is no fine control over what is being blocked: everything is either allowed or denied without exception.
Customized for Different User Groups
It’s important to think about the different groups of users that will be using your school web filter. You’ll need to ensure that it can be customized for each group, which means that you’ll want to look for a web filter with features like:
- Choose what content is blocked or allowed for each group
- Create multiple groups with different levels of access
- Use a single interface to create and manage all of the groups
Constantly Updated to Block New and Evolving Threats
The technology used by web filters in constantly evolving, so you should only trust a filter that is updated to block new and developing threats. Web filters must be able to recognize new threats and adapt quickly to keep users safe from cyberbullying, malware, and other dangers. Do not trust a product that doesn’t have a regular update schedule. If your school’s web filter is out of date, it could leave student devices vulnerable to attacks, malware infections, harmful content and more while they’re online at school.
Netsweeper for Your School Web Filter
When it comes to school safety, you don’t want a one-size-fits all web filter. Netsweeper’s nFilter is the industry’s most comprehensive and up to date database of harmful content. We provide real-time analysis, filtering and blocking online content to keep students safe. Netsweeper’s filtering solution is the most effective when it comes to blocking harmful websites working inside the browser to prevent users from accessing inappropriate or dangerous sites.
Netsweeper’s policy management tool ensures proper access is provided without over-blocking and provides Safeguarding and IT leaders with granular control of applications such as YouTube, Facebook, and other social media platforms. The Netsweeper platform provides tools and customizable policies, which allow or deny access to content based on a wide range of criteria, including user, group, applications, time of day, and media transfer controls.
Getting the Best School Web Filter
The best school web filter software will allow you to customize it so that it meets your unique needs. Netsweeper allows schools large and small to use the same system and tailor their settings to fit their individual situations. By taking advantage of some of the many customizable settings available in a good school web filter, you can make sure that your students are protected while still being able to access the websites they need for research, communication with others and more.