Schools are responsible for ensuring that their students have access to the materials they need to learn and thrive in an increasingly digital world. However, with the growing prevalence of cyber-bullying and other social media-related issues, schools also need to take steps to ensure that their students’ online activity does not cause any harm. One way that schools can accomplish both goals is by implementing web filters and monitoring programs that can help administrators monitor what students are doing online and flag any potentially dangerous or harmful content. 

What Web Filters Should be Blocking in Schools

Web Content & Images

Web filtering solutions should be able to block images based on the type of content that is contained within them. For example, a filter should be able to identify an image containing nudity and block it from being viewed by students. Similarly, filters should also be able to detect images that contain violence or drugs and alcohol and block them from being accessed by students.  

There are certain images and web content that should be blocked in schools, regardless of the context. 

  • Nudity – This includes sexual content, partial nudity, and full-frontal nudity. 
  • Violence – This includes gore, mutilation, torture, and violent acts. 
  • Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco Products – These items should be blocked because they are illegal to sell to minors (with some exceptions). Even if a school does not have an explicit policy about blocking these items on its network or mobile devices, there might be legal implications for allowing students access to these products if parents or other authorities find out about it. 

Social Networking

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are often blocked in schools because of the distraction they can cause. Many teachers have found that students will spend a disproportionate amount of time on social media during class time, which can affect their grades and overall learning experience at school. 

Social media is also sometimes blocked from classrooms because it’s been used for cyberbullying in the past. While it’s important to note that abuse doesn’t just happen online—it happens everywhere—the vast reach of social networks makes them particularly dangerous for young people who are still learning about how to handle conflict. Because these sites allow users to easily connect with friends and family through text and video chats, they can be used as vehicles for spreading rumors or posting hurtful comments that could damage someone’s reputation or even endanger them physically (by revealing personal information). 

Unauthorized Proxy Access

These types of proxies serve as a vehicle for students to access sites that are blocked by their school. A proxy server acts as a go-between for the blocked website, which is then sent to users via the proxy server. The student will see the website that is being accessed, but it’s actually coming from an outside source, not directly from the blocked site itself. 

It is also important that schools block these sites because they can be associated with malicious intent and viruses; while they are not necessarily trying to infect computers, some people will use them as a means of doing so because they know many students do not know how well-protected their computers are when using proxies like these. 

Netsweeper’s Web Filter Helps Schools Block What They Should 

With so many factors at play in any given environment, it can be hard for administrators to decide what they should block or filter out altogether—especially when they don’t know if these decisions will be effective at keeping their students safe online. Netsweeper’s nFilter is the industry’s most comprehensive database of harmful content, based on over 22 years of web indexing. We provide real-time analysis, filtering and blocking of 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. 

To Find Out More 

It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to content blocking. Netsweeper knows the needs of every school are different, and each has its own unique challenges and priorities. Schools have an obligation to protect students from inappropriate or harmful content but also need to allow students access to a wide variety of materials.  

To find out more about the Netsweeper solution and how we can protect your schools from online vulnerabilities request a demo with one of our specialists today!