- Filtering software allows you to control which types of websites, content and services can be accessed on your internet connection. It can be used to block access to sites that contain content such as adult content, gambling, drugs and depictions of death. Filtering software can be installed on each device required but some internet service providers also offer filtering tools that can be used to filter every device on a home internet network.
- Monitoring tools are used to log and monitor the actions a person takes on their device – including which websites they have browsed, how long they have spent on any particular app or program and key words that they may have searched for or typed. Such tools can be used to monitor a child’s activity and alert you if they visit or search for content that may give you cause for concern.
- Parental controls are settings that can be used on devices and some services to restrict access to content and features. For example, parental controls on a video game console can restrict a child from being able to play or download games above their age, or to view any video content or websites that are intended for older audiences. These controls can also be used to place restrictions on when a child can use a device, and for how long.
- There are a wealth of tools and products available to allow a child’s online and technology use to be filtered and monitored. While it is important to protect a child online, it is also important to consider their freedom to explore and learn, as well as their right to privacy.
- Your school may use filtering and monitoring to restrict what students can access online when using technology in school. It can be beneficial to explain to students why these systems are in place and what types of content are blocked. Helping your students develop a healthy respect for these systems and why they are used is important. They will likely encounter similar systems at establishments later in their education and in many workplaces, and seeking to subvert these systems can get them into serious trouble, including dismissal from a job.
- Consider your own use of technology and the internet when in school or using school equipment. Make sure you understand the expectations your school has around both your professional and personal use of the internet and technology while at work. Both you and your students may be asked to sign an acceptable use agreement by your school to signify you agree to the rules around internet and technology use.
- Talk to your students about the limitations of filtering and parental controls. Help them understand that these systems cannot protect them from everything, so learning about online risks, developing strategies and knowing how to get help are all vitally important to helping them keep themselves and others safe online.
- Recognise that, while systems may exist in school to protect your students online, their protection at home can vary greatly from family to family. Some families actively use filtering and parental controls solutions whereas others prefer not to filter and instead may rely on discussion and strategies to support their children. Some families use a combination of both. For some families, there may be a lack of awareness around parental controls or an unwillingness to engage with how to keep a child safe online.
- Remember that your students may use the internet and technology in other settings – such as on a public WiFi hotspot or at a friend’s house. Look for opportunities to discuss these scenarios with your students and what strategies they would use to keep themselves or others safe.