The Blocked Part of Brashier

Kamryn Mattison

Even is blocked on Brashier computers! (Photo credits to Kamryn Mattison)

Web filters are used at Brashier to block websites that students should not be able to access, at least according to administration. The web filters are initially put in place for good reasons; however, it seems as though recently they have caused some problems.

The purpose of the web filter is to keep our students safe.  The Child Internet Protection Act is a federal law that requires K-12 public educational institutions to have a filter in place to protect students from inappropriate and potentially harmful content,” said Brashier’s technical director Barbara Howard

Web filters are very helpful in preventing inappropriate website searches, preventing computer viruses, and keeping students safe, which are just some of the reasons why Brashier set them in place.

“The web filters protect the school computers from getting viruses that can spread from website to website, which is a good thing. They prevent students from visiting any bad websites that we know we should not be going on; this is good because we can’t get in trouble for doing things that we shouldn’t be doing on the school’s technology,” said sophomore Paige Scuro.

Even though these are some of many pros to having web filters set on school computers, they are not as helpful as they intend to be. There are many blocked websites that can be very helpful to students to further their learning, but, due to the web filters, they are not accessible.

“The blocked websites on the school computers sometimes block websites that can actually be used for beneficial reasons. They limit our research because some of the websites we need to use are not open for us to look at,” said sophomore Christian Malave.

Web filters are known to irritate many of the students because they block so many sites that can potentially help their education. For example, in Brashier’s newspaper class, students must use online news articles for references in their own writing, but many times articles that they would like to use are blocked. This poses the question: should Brashier’s web filters be removed?

“I think in certain things or websites the web filters are understandable because some sites do need a filter. I don’t think they should be completely taken away, but maybe there should be [fewer] restrictions. I understand why they are put in place and kept, but some should be taken some away so that students can use [certain websites] for learning purposes,” said junior Anna Jernigan.

Students may not always understand, but the web filters are put onto the computers for good reasons. No matter how much the Brashier faculty would like to trust every student to use the devices maturely, they can not take any chances. Unblocking all websites could lead to a virus spreading to one student’s account, so when that student logs into other computers, the viruses would be spread to them as well. The school could also potentially get in trouble for any inappropriate content on the computer.

“There are many benefits to having a filter other than safety. For example, the web filter can be used to block sites that students may waste time on rather than studying. We can also use it to prioritize traffic flow so that more important sites load quicker than less important sites. The filter also helps keep hackers and malware out by blocking sites exhibiting malicious behavior. We can also run reports that tell us every single website that a user visits including the sites that they tried to visit that may have been blocked,” said Howard.

Brashier’s web filters are a good way to prevent many kinds of technological trouble. However, some websites can be immensely useful to students; instead of just ignoring the problem, helpful websites should be unblocked at students’ request so research can be continued. Teachers should be allowed to check any requested website and then unblock it if it is safe to use.

“If a student asks for a specific site to be unblocked for the purpose of helping their education, that website should be unblocked so long as it does not contain any bad content. It would make students’ lives so much easier because we wouldn’t have to worry about getting in trouble for using our phones because we could do everything [we needed to do] on the computers,” said Jernigan.