Strict content filtering cause students stress and frustration

Peyton Lewis ‘23, Managing Editor/Layout Director

Almost every student at South Lyon High School—or any of the South Lyon Community Schools—have some familiarity with the infamous, and most times bothersome, content blockers associated with the school’s WiFi network. Any time a student using a school provided chromebook, or a personal computer connected to the school’s internet, attempts to access a blocked website, they are met with a devastatingly frightening message: “This site is blocked due to content filtering.” While the intent behind this filtering is honorable—afterall, it is important to keep students focused, and prevent them from straying to any explicit sites—the current filtering system may be doing its job a little too well.

Oftentimes, students who are attempting to write essays for various English classes run into trouble when crafting their essays due to these filtering systems. Junior Athena Sherlock recalled trying to write an essay on Batman: The Dark Knight Rises for her 20th Century Perspectives English class: “ Do you know how hard it was to try and do that on a school computer when things about pop culture are blocked?” she asked. Her ability to properly complete an assigned essay was hindered because of the strict blockers. She continued “I understand we’re trying to eliminate distractions but we have to think of the implications and how these things affect us academically.”

To make matters worse, students who rely on a school provided chromebook are still blocked from these websites when working at home. For many students, their provided laptop  may be the only computer to which they have access, therefore putting them at a continued disadvantage even when they are not in school. At the very least, students should be given the sweet relief of freedom from the content filtering in their own homes. Whatever school administrators may fear taking place with unrestrained internet access, cannot be as bad as a student being unable to complete a graded essay with ease. 

There is another glaring, and slightly alarming, group of websites in which the school WiFi denies students access. Junior Payton Beck recalled attempting to write an essay about LGBTQ+ issues for her AP Language and Composition class, and found nearly every website discussing the topic blocked by the school’s content filters. Websites such as the Trevor Project—which provides counseling resources to struggling LGBTQ+ students—and the Human Rights Campaign were blocked. “It’s kind of ironic that the school claims to care so much about students’ mental health, yet they block resources that help LGBTQ+ students with their mental health,” Beck said. Even if these websites were not purposely blocked, it still serves as a harsh reminder of just how damaging these strict content blockers are. 

While the school having content filtering in place is understandable, the current system appears to be causing more harm than good for students. The schools top priority should be the academic success of their student body, and the student body can not maintain this academic success with these filters in place. It may be time to reassess the current system in place in order to develop a more effective one for all.

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