Locked out

New internet filter blocks access to content, good and bad


Research and Resources: Anah Williams (9) works on an assignment for AP World History. Dutch Kulka (10) said, “Most youtube videos just dont work, and mainly in health, its stupid hard to get onto the website our teacher wants us on.” Photo by: Adam Chodowski

Adam Chodowski, Reporter

Often enough when students go to search for an online game or certain subject for a class, an internet filter can get in their way. It can cause those exact problems for students who are just doing some reasonable research. 

“It often blocks many websites that I need, I’ve noticed this especially in upperclassman courses in high school,”  Caterina Tian-Svobodny (12) said. “For example, last year I was writing a research paper on sex education in the United States. It was very difficult since I had to do all of my research at home, since virtually all scholarly articles and informational websites on the curricula were blocked. Nothing was explicit, however, the information I needed was deemed as ‘inappropriate’ and I couldn’t even access pages on the Department of Education’s website.”

Issues like this pop up often with the filter. While no technology is perfect, there is a reason why this system does that, and has other issues.

There is no such thing as a perfect filter, so it will block something that it isn’t supposed to and they’re not preset, they will always block websites they aren’t supposed to because it is always changing what should and shouldn’t be,” Matt Sproat, the Technology Coordinator, said. 

There were some weird anomalies with websites being blocked early this year.

“Sometimes there are blocks on websites the teachers have used for years, and they usually have to be fixed, which can take a while,” Derek Thorpe (9) said. “For example, in the first semester, during the 6th period Computer Programming class, actual coding was delayed for at least a week because of an essential website- Replit -having been blocked by the filter. This delay affected the schedule a lot.”

These issues appeared because of a simple problem.

“We changed the filter and there are a couple of differences,” Sproat said. “We changed because the old filter could no longer function so we had to go in and pick what could and couldn’t be allowed.”

The filter has balances that it had to make in order to do its job. 

“The pros are that more inappropriate things are blocked, but the cons are there are less resources that we can view,” Moss LaFountain (12) said. “Teachers also often have to take time out of their day to unblock information or videos.”

Even then, some trade offs have to be made. However, these do not have lack of reason,

“It is required by law, and keeps everybody safe from things that they shouldn’t have access to and keeps a better focus for them,” Sproat said.

So, students are stuck with the filter and some of its occasional caveats. Even so, it does not show up without a rather big reason.