Despite the vastness of the internet, half of all school-based web traffic is spent on just 100 sites, according to a study by N2H2 Inc. of Seattle, maker of the popular Bess filtering software used in about 2,000 schools.

The study, which is based on aggregate data from a sample of 43 proxy servers selected from major urban areas, also found that search engines and “entertainment” sites—those focused on music, sports, games, and film—accounted for more than half of all web page hits in schools.

“What the data tells us is that we’re not yet using the internet effectively in schools,” said Jim O’Halloran, vice president of marketing for N2H2. “There’s a need for better tools and better methods to make this technology more effective.”

O’Halloran said the figures represent the usage of more than 350,000 students during a one-month period. While the figures don’t distinguish between web hits that occurred during class time or after school, they do suggest that students—and perhaps teachers—are wasting too much time using ineffective techniques for finding information, he added.

N2H2 will continue to study schools’ internet use, O’Halloran said, with the goal of providing information that could improve how educators use the technology in classrooms.

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