Home > Computing, Internet > Pupils bypass web filters

Pupils bypass web filters

Proxy Sites

Proxy Sites

Schools and local education authorities have over the years put in place filters to restrict access to inappropriate sites on the web.  These are largely a crude means of filtering content, often blocking access to entirely appropriate web sites.  As a parent, and a responsible teacher, I see that we have a duty of care, and a duty as professionals in whom parents place their trust to protect their children, to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that web sites accessed in our schools are suitable and educational.

As a technologist I see that we are fighting a losing battle.  A recent report by the BBC showed that most teenagers are aware of proxy servers, although most would have a great deal of difficulty in explaining what one is and how it works.  My own children know how to access Facebook and other sites banned by their school and tell me that all their friends know how to bypass most of the controls that have been put in place.  Sites with names like “bling rabbitz” and “monkey bonk” are well known in most playgrounds.

Lists of suitable proxy sites are readily available on the web, and as soon as one is blocked – the word in the playground soon lets everyone know of the names of alternatives.  Even one of the UK government’s own agencies admits there is no single technology or approach to solving this situation.

Categories: Computing, Internet
  1. Emma
    14/01/2010 at 12:19 pm

    These filters are never effective within schools. When I was at college they would block many e-mail sites but when searching for statistics for a report on the death penalty, allowed a site which showed a full screen video of an electric chair execution. Hardly logical!

    • 14/01/2010 at 2:23 pm

      I agree. However, the web contains a rich variety of material and is very difficult to implement a filter system with sufficient flexibility and sophistication to fine tune what may, or may not, pass through to the pupils of students. There is clearly a need for this technology as it is unrealistic to expect pupils to show restraint. Also, consideration needs to be given to preventing pages appearing on pupil’s screens with unsuitable material, delivered from an innocuous sounding URL.

  2. Emma
    14/01/2010 at 11:38 pm

    What do you mean “show restraint”?!

    • 15/01/2010 at 12:34 am

      For both sexes not to be using social networking tools such as Facebook and for the boys not to be ogling porn, without the need for technological tools and teacher sanctions.

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