Olivia Finnegan, Staff Writer

In December of 2000, The Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was signed into law. Ever since, school districts all over the country, including MCPS, have started moderating the students’ internet access, sparking the controversy of web blocking and filtering. While students overarchingly dislike the filtering, these policies are necessary to protect pupils of all ages from dangerous material online. 

The Child Internet Protection Act provides much-needed discount rates for internet usage to the schools and libraries that comply with its requirements, including blocking or filtering obscene images, child pornography, and content deemed harmful to minors. 

Web filters are installed on the school-distributed Chromebooks, as well as all in-school desktops, and limit access to the above dangerous material as well as certain entertainment, gaming, and chatroom websites in order to protect and keep students on track. 

While some restrictions are arguably unnecessary for high school students, who would likely have extensive knowledge of the internet and can traverse it safely; the same can not be said for many of the younger elementary and middle school kids accessing the same county computers. These filters are essential for kids who are naive and inexperienced with the depths of the internet, as only a few wrong clicks or poorly phrased searches can leave students vulnerable to dangerous results. 

In addition to protecting students from viewing harmful content, it is essential to remember that web-blocking has other uses. For example, it safeguards students against hacking, viruses, theft of personal information, and other online attacks.

One of the main gripes that students have with the filtering is that, on occasion, it will block content that they are trying to access for research on their assignments. 

This is a valid concern, and MCPS tries to repair this when possible, but there is almost always a reason why the site was flagged in the first place. 

While there are some good critiques to be taken into consideration, when it comes to the internet safety of children and teens, it is always better to be safe than sorry, which is why web blocking in schools is needed.