Internet Filtering: Students and staff disagree over web filters

by Dylan Carlson, ’19

Every day, students at UA will search for certain websites and encounter the message: “Page Blocked: Access to the requested site has been restricted due to your organization’s policy.”

This is because UAHS has set a range of limitations on what one can search for on the Internet, known as Internet filtering.

These filters are meant to keep students from looking at inappropriate or non-educational sites. While the purpose of Internet filtering is to help students, its effects have sparked conflict throughout the school.

AP Computer Science teacher Diane Kahle noted that the filters sometimes block academic websites that she wishes to use in her classes.

“I tried to show my math class a YouTube video, but it was blocked. I had to get the website approved from the help desk, and it wasn’t until a couple of days later that I could finally show the video,” Kahle said.

Freshman Aria Nielsen is also frustrated by these policies.

“I was working on a health project, but the filters wouldn’t let me look up the content that I needed to finish the research for my project because I was researching information about some drug. They blocked every single website that was related to it,” Nielsen said.

On the other hand, filtering stops students from distracting or inappropriate websites. Sophomore Adam Boyer said the school’s filters do a good job of restricting students’ access to inappropriate websites.

“I think Internet filtering is necessary,” Boyer said. “There are websites that some would go to that would be inappropriate to look at in school. I myself would get distracted. I think Internet filters are doing a good job of regulating students.”

However, there are flaws in the district’s current filtering system.

The district occasionally won’t block inappropriate websites, yet they block appropriate websites that serve an academic purpose.

Freshman Oscar Coppola says that he wants the school to fix the filters.

“I would like a petition system where if you find a website that is blocked, but you know it’s useful, you can write to the school and tell them you found a website that you know is educational but is blocked. Then, the tech department can make the website become available,” Coppola said.

Some think that curtailing certain activities is necessary to keep students focused in class. Others believe that the filters are a faulty program which create problems for teachers and students. The positive and the negative sides of the Internet continue to evolve rapidly, but regardless, it has effects on all involved.