In The News: School-issued Chromebooks & Harm
An alleged loophole in a Jacksonville elementary school’s firewall allowed children the opportunity to watch pornographic videos in the classroom.
They said they were made aware of the situation weeks later by a concerned staff member.
“This is XXX, pornographic, adult material,” the mother explained. “This is not appropriate for the school, it’s not appropriate for any classroom, this is not appropriate for an 8-year-old child.”
Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District said two male students found a loophole on Google Chrome in their Chromebooks. They accessed the pornography while another student looked at it as well.
NCOSE Analysis: Not only does the school need to have adequate filters on the school WiFi, but the devices also need to have controls in place. Regularly, schools think that it is enough to simply have the WiFi protected, yet these kinds of loopholes are regularly used by students. In addition, schools are increasingly allowing students to take home school-issued devices to use outside of school grounds. Unfortunately, the devices are often not adequately protected with even the built-in safety tools, frequently because the schools do not know how to do this. Google could easily make these devices safer and take the burden off of the parents and schools to figure out the complicated process of turning on controls.
The mother of a Surfside Middle School student was shocked this week to discover her daughter was accessing what she described as “pornographic” websites using a district-issued Chromebook.
Iesha Sparks said she found an index card in her daughter’s belongings with search terms students could use on YouTube to find the inappropriate videos, along with a website where more material could be found. Sparks said she brought up the website on her daughter’s Chromebook and that it wasn’t blocked by the district’s firewalls. She said she then reviewed her daughter’s browsing history and found she had been spending time on the site.
“It made me want to throw up,” Sparks said.
The district began an initiative last month that would give every middle school student a Chromebook to use in school and take home for school work. Surfside and Jinks middle schools were chosen for the pilot program. District officials said the Chromebooks came with the same internet filters available on the school’s internet and that those filters would carry into the home, blocking websites with inappropriate content. Sparks said she believed the filters would protect her daughter from those websites and that she wouldn’t need to supervise her use. She’s angry at the district, she said, and her daughter’s innocence is “gone.”
“They said it was safe,” she said. “They assured us that they couldn’t get on stuff like this.”
Chip Shows, director of management information systems for the district, said the sites were able to skirt the district’s firewall because they didn’t contain any of the keywords that would trigger the filters. YouTube, he said, is all or nothing, and teachers use it in the classroom for lessons. The other website, e621.net, didn’t contain any outright inappropriate material on its landing page. Instead, he said, the website was a gateway to access the inappropriate videos, which they could do by logging in. Once he became aware of the website and that students were using it, Shows said the site was blocked immediately.
The Ridgewood school district is defending their safeguards after a parent reported her 8-year-old son viewed inappropriate material on a school laptop while he was in school.
Parent Candace Young told the Board of Education that her son viewed a “sexual bloody murder video” on a schoolmate’s Chromebook.
“This is extremely serious, you can’t take something back like that,” Young said at the Monday meeting.
She added that another parent told her that her child watched a “suicide video” on the school Chromebook, and that students could “access porn and play video games that are not part of the curricula” at home.
Union County parents are furious after learning their children accessed pornography on their school-issued laptops in class.
A mother called Channel 9 after two separate incidents at Parkwood Middle School, in Monroe, last week.
The mother, who did not want to be identified, said her 11-year-old son watched as another student pulled up hardcore pornography on his Chromebook during class.
“He was in tears. He said it was disgusting, and he wished he could unsee it,” the mother said.
The mother said a few days later, her son saw it happen again amidst a group of students looking at the porn on a Chromebook in the school cafeteria.
The mother said when she went to school officials, they told her the students are very smart, they’ll get around anything they do, and all they can do as a school is monitor it the best they can.
Lora and Colton Brady are serious about monitoring their children’s Internet use.
To access their home computer, the kids need to find a parent to unlock the computer, and then the Bradys keep an eye on what they are looking at through the glass door of their home office.
So when their 12-year-old son approached them with a picture of a scantily clad woman on his Richland School District Chromebook, they were concerned.
They discovered it was possible to use the Google image search on the laptop to find a bevy of women in various states of undress, and at least a few wearing no clothing at all.
“Then if you click on ‘view more,’ more and more just comes up,” she said. “They can jump from picture to picture to picture, and the deeper you go the worse it gets.”
Libby Middle School, where their son attends, is the first Tri-City school to provide each student with a laptop to take home. Two of the other Richland middle schools are expected to hand Chromebooks to their students before the end of the year.
The Bradys want the district to improve its filtering system.
“I was thinking maybe once or twice something might pop up on his Chromebook,” Lora Brady said. “We’re not talking about one or two things slipping through once in awhile.”