Sexual content on school iPad sparks conversation about internet safety

Published: Feb. 6, 2018 at 6:39 PM CST
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An incident involving inappropriate sexual content found on an elementary school tablet is sparking conversations about Internet safety in the classroom.

With technology becoming more and more widespread in every day classrooms, monitoring internet safety is becoming a major concern for schools and parents.

“You know, students quite literally have access to the world at their fingertips,” says Sherman Elementary School Principal Joel Dimock.

The mother of a third grade student at Sherman Elementary School, who does not want to be identified, says her daughter was able to access inappropriate sexual content on her school tablet last week.

The content was primarily accessed through the website YouTube.

“A student had notified us that there was some inappropriate content that was being observed, and notified the teacher,” says Dimock.

He says the school district uses a filter system to catch inappropriate content.

“The intent is that they catch any inappropriate content that’s trying to work its way through the system and in the event that something does get through, we work with technology to problem-solve how that gap was missed and respond accordingly to it so we don’t miss those gaps in the future,” he says.

Students grades 3-5 use iPads with internet access in the classroom.

The mom of the student who viewed the inappropriate content says the third grader signed a form at the beginning of the year agreeing to act appropriately on their devices.

The form includes a promise to “stay safe on the internet” and to “report if ‘I’ or someone else accidentally opens an inappropriate website or page.”

The mom says parents were not made aware that their kids would be using the tablets.

Starting in kindergarten, the school has a digital literacy curriculum, which teaches them skills to be safe on the internet.

“As educators, we take great ownership with trying to provide them with the tools they need to navigate that arena safety,” says Dimock. “It also teaches them to respond to inappropriate content that does come across the internet.”

Dimock says another student did the right thing by reporting the incident to the teacher.

“We want students to report inappropriate content, if they see another student engaging in that. We teach them to talk to their teacher about it,” says Dimock.

In response, the school’s weekly newsletter included information that provides internet safety resources for parents and students.

In this case, the tablets were only being used at school and kids were not allowed to take them home.

The parent of the unnamed 3rd grade student says she has decided to pull her child from Sherman Elementary.