Survey: School web filtering can impede learning

Permitted mobile devices include eReaders (53 percent), cell phones (49 percent), laptops (39 percent), MP3 players (36 percent), netbooks (32 percent), and portable game players (16 percent).

The filtering report is a supplement to AASL’s 2012 “School Libraries Count!” and included 4,299 responses to 14 questions covering a variety of filtering issues.

All of the respondents said their school or district filters online content. In addition, 94 percent use filtering software, 87 percent have an acceptable use policy, 73 percent supervise students while they use the internet, 27 percent limit access to the internet, and 8 percent allow students to access the internet on a case-by-case basis.

The most popular filtering software is URL-based (70 percent), keyword-based (60 percent), and based on blacklists (47 percent).

A large majority of schools (88 percent) filter content for staff as well as for students. Just more than half (56 percent) use the same level of filtering for staff as they do for students, and 73 percent use the same level of filtering for all grade levels.

When it comes to what content is filtered, respondents indicated:

  • Social network sites (88 percent)
  • Instant messaging or online chatting (74 percent)
  • Gaming (69 percent)
  • Video services such as YouTube or SchoolTube (66 percent)
  • Personal eMail accounts (41 percent)
  • Peer-to-peer file sharing (40 percent)
  • File transfer protocol used to download large files (32 percent)
  • Newsgroups (17 percent)
  • Professional development tools such as eBinders and Google Docs (9 percent)

Most often, the decision to “unblock” a site is made at the district level (68 percent), and it is made less frequently at the building level (17 percent). Thirty-five percent of librarians said their requests to unblock sites take between one and two days, while 27 percent said such a request is answered immediately or within a few hours. Seventeen percent said it takes more than two days, but less than a week, to unblock a site, and 20 percent said it takes more than a week to block a site.

Laura Ascione

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