Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

Arguments for and against Internet Filters in schools

A common problem that is discussed on Twitter between educators is that they don’t have full access to the Internet due to a filter installed either at their school or at the district level in their area.  There are a number of arguments for and against the existence of these filters, summarized in the table below.

Arguments for Internet Filters Arguments against Internet filters
They satisfy need for control over what kids do in school. They don’t teach responsible Internet use.
They prevent students from accessing sites which could be dangerous. Useful tools are blocked.
They block access to social networking sites that may result in cyberbullying. They cause network lag and slow down access to the Internet.
They make it easy to comply with educational regulations and laws involving Internet use by students. They are easily circumvented anyway. Google “unblock websites at school” or “proxy servers unblock websites”
  They teach kids how to avoid obstacles rather than how to solve problems.
  We are not teaching real life skills then, real life does not come with filters
  Internet filters tend to most often filter content for the teachers rather than the students: they know how to get by them.
  Within five years, the idea of an Internet filter will be antiquated.  With the development of 4G networks and the growth of smartphones, it’s only a matter of time before the vast majority of students have unfiltered access to the Internet in their pockets, whether IT dept’s like it or not.
  Many school districts have removed Internet filters with no ill effects.
  They create an artificial, limited research environment that will not help them when they move on to jobs or higher ed.
  The prevent valuable learning experiences about the risks involved with the Internet from taking place.

This document was produced by the collective wisdom of a few educators from #edchat working together. Our objective is to summarize all of the arguments for and against Internet filters in schools. The idea is, if we have the information and the argument worked out, our individual discussions with our local administrators will be a lot easier.

Most of us who chat on Twitter think that the Internet filters aren’t accomplishing their goal, which we think is to keep our students safe. What do they accomplish then? Mostly keep kids from making mistakes in school where they can be assisted with the consequences of their mistakes, and they prevent students from connecting to the most useful resources they could be using.

If you want to participate in the creation of this document, please feel free to add your thoughts here.