“Access to the requested site has been restricted due to its contents.” An all too familiar message for students trying to access webpages for research, videos, or fun.
LeanderISD’s internet blocks can be overbearing and block pages necessary for a student’s work. While blocks help students from looking at inappropriate pages, the district overlooks some of the most vulgar sites. Even with the blocks, they are easy to work around.
The school is required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act to block websites that are rightfully inappropriate. The service used by the district can be excessive; blocking websites and videos helpful to students’ research. If a student was researching minimalism in daily life, The Minimalists, a minimalist lifestyle blog, would be a helpful resource. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, creators of The Minimalists, have wrote novels, made TEDx talks, and been featured on popular TV networks like BBC, NBC, and more. Yet, when a student tries to access their article on how minimalists give gifts, they would be treated with the familiar blue screen, citing private websites.
The district also allows students to visit exceptionally inappropriate and vulgar websites. Recently, a Cards Against Humanity clone, featuring obscene and profane language, was found by students. The game allowed students to mix and match crude phrases with curse words and more. Students would play this game in groups with friends during Pride Time, lunch, or in class. The respective website has now been blocked yet equally or even more so inappropriate sites are still allowed. Students have been allowed to visit vendors like Amazon and eBay, but can also access adult stores.
The district’s system is very easy to work around to access blocked websites. It can be as simple as opening a different browser, adding a letter to a URL, or going through a proxy website. This isn’t news, a simple search on the school’s wifi leads to 51,500,000 results on how to bypass the restrictions.
There are ways to unblock websites which require going through the IT department. The process to unblock a single website, unknown to many students, is too tedious for most people to go through, even if the website is essential to their research. The process of getting a website unblocked would have to be streamlined to ever be a solution.
Overall, the district’s service for blocking websites is inefficient and downright annoying. Resourceful websites, crucial to student’s work, can be restricted, which is why students use easy work arounds to not only access websites unrightfully restricted, but websites that are blocked for a reason. The district’s service for blocking websites is unreasonable and needs to be overhauled to be efficient.