“Blocked from logging on Discord!”

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Blocked Sites on Chromebooks

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(Jolyon Hosmer-Cope)

A blocked image pops up after a student searches for a site.

While on a school Chromebook, Olympia High School has the right to monitor and block which sites you can view. The school blocking sites is very opinionated; some sides say that the filter should remain and others say it should be thrown away.

Stacy Udo, librarian at Olympia High School, believes that each individual should have the freedom of information, but she also believes that schools should have the right to block sites. Udo says that the filter is on Chromebooks to protect the students from dangerous sites that have sexual, violent, or predatory nature. The filter works based on the maturity level of the student. The Olympia School District uses an automated filtering service which means that they don’t look through which sites are blocked.

While working in the library, Udo encounters a great deal of students who are doing research for class and getting blocked sites. “They just don’t understand a lot of health-related research that kids are doing comes up as being blocked,” Udo states. The school district can unblock sites, but that requires a teacher calling them, telling them the issue, and then waiting for them to unblock it. This means that by the time they unblock it, the period that the teacher called from could already be over.

Udo says the biggest worry about removing blocked sites is that students could use social media. “The majority of students are never intending harm when they post, but some are,” Udo said. She also worries that social media is a time-suck. This year teachers are asking students to put their phones away. If they have their Chromebooks out with the same social media platforms that are on the students’ phones, then there is no point in taking their phones away. Udo wonders if it would be more of a constant battle if we had our devices out.

Udo believes that parents should have greater control over what their kids see. She also believes that teens at Olympia High School will want blocked sites removed.

Blocked sites are controlled by an outside company that handles all schools nationwide. Amazon and Netflix were sites blocked by the district but were unblocked. A student can always go to a teacher and they can get the site unblocked. If a teacher has a reason to have a site unblocked, it can be unblocked instantly.

If the school removed blocked sites, there would be a period where students would search up inappropriate sites. You have teenagers who like to push boundaries at times, so I think initially there would be an influx of problems.

It would be impossible for a local school to handpick which sites are blocked. This is because there is an unimaginable amount of unsafe websites that pop up every day.

Nidhi Kumar, president of Programming Club, says it makes sense to have blocked sites in an instance that a site could have spyware or viruses. Discord is one of the sites that she says should be unblocked. She says that in the Programming Club, they made a discord for everyone to talk, but it’s blocked on Chromebooks. Students will have to use their phones whenever they want to use Discord to communicate with fellow classmates.

Kumar believes that most students don’t use their Chromebooks outside of school. There are times when she said that blocked sites have been annoying. She thinks that the majority of students would say “yes” to removing blocked sites.