Keeping Kids Safe Online - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Keeping kids safe online

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If they don't have a school-issued computer, there's software available to use on computers at home. If they don't have a school-issued computer, there's software available to use on computers at home.
Some school districts, like Clinton, are starting to hand over technology to every student. Some school districts, like Clinton, are starting to hand over technology to every student.
Once the bell rings, the kids are taking the laptops with them. Once the bell rings, the kids are taking the laptops with them.
CLINTON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Kids are learning their place in the digital world we live in. But are they getting the wrong kind of education?

"I think just as teenagers we want full access," said Clinton High School junior Anthony Scales.

He admits teens like to push the limits with technology.

"It's just how youth is. We've always tried to find ways around the rules and we've just gotten good at it," explained Scales.

Some school districts, like Clinton, are starting to hand over technology to every student.

"We also know that with that access comes a great responsibility," explained Dr. Kameron Ball, Clinton Public Schools Technology Director.

Once the bell rings, the kids are taking the laptops with them.

But what are they clicking on when they get home and what safeguards are in place to make sure they aren't clicking on the wrong things?

In the Clinton Public School District, there's a whole team of folks keeping the kids safe while they surf the web on the school-issued computers.

"Every Internet search that they perform comes back through our service provider's firewall and then our district's filter," said Ball. "And we catalog and log whether the student has access to the site; if it's appropriate or if it's inappropriate."

A system called iBoss provides the control.

"We get to keep data that is very specific. By the site, by the terms, by the keywords and by the student," Ball detailed.

Still, Anthony Scales admits the idea of being a good "digital citizen" isn't something teens care much about.

"I know just a lot of us being teenagers would expect that the district would have not covered everything," said Scales. "We expected to be able to utilize all of our backdoors and links and all that kind of stuff. But things really are, it's shut down."

Things may not be as "shut down" without some effort on the parents' part.

Attorney General Jim Hood says keeping kids safe online is part of his office's priority list. There's just one problem.

"We're trying to police a moving target," said Hood. "The challenges out there are changing by the day. So our best bet and the best rule of thumb, as a father and attorney general, that I've found is for a parent to keep up with what their child is doing online and you don't know how to do that."

There's a whole list of dangers lurking online. They range from cyberbulling to webcam hacking and predators waiting for kids to give out their personal information late at night.

"That's when they're out there trolling like sharks in the water," explained the Attorney General.

Here's some suggestions of what you can do. First, educate yourself. Hood says the best teachers are your own kids.

"Let them show you what they're doing," said Hood. "If it's Facebook, if they're gaming playing games on the Internet or whatever it is that they're doing."

If they don't have a school-issued computer, there's software available to use on computers at home. They can do things like block sites or monitor the specifics of what your child's searching. Ask a computer expert about which one is best for you. But remember, kids are curious.

"What most students don't recognize is that they're watching it all," said student Anthony Scales.

Clinton has also found they can use online blocks as a form of punishment or probation for the students.

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