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Carroll County Schools educate students on online responsibility

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Technology brings great convenience and efficiency, but it requires digital security and accountability.

In the Carroll County School District, staff members at the Center of Tech-nology and Innov-ation work to protect district data as well as to teach students about digital citizenship.

Students use technology now more than ever, both in school and at home. Teaching students to effectively and safely use technology is a priority.

District network administrator Zach Dean makes it his job to help students make good online choices. 

“We have a filter in place called NetSpective,” Dean said. “This filter screens all online activity in our district. The Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2000 mandates that all school districts implement filters to help block out harmful content; our filter is far stronger than the minimum required.”

As needed, district computer technicians work to help students understand that their online actions can have real-world repercussions.

Since online posts can never be completely deleted, students’ online actions can cause long-term harm.  

“We are required to teach students about digital citizenship,” district technology coordinator Cindy Johann said. “Our Digital Driver’s License program works in conjunction with the University of Kentucky. Students study different aspects of cyber safety, such as protecting Internet passwords and reporting cyber bullying. Students then take an online exam at the end to demonstrate their knowledge.”

While the district’s security software is effective when students are using school-issued equipment, parents play a key role in monitoring students’ online activity in other situations.

“Legally, parents are responsible for what their children do online,” Johann said. “Experts recommend that children be required to share their passwords with parents until they are 18 years old. Additionally, phones have many capabilities, and parents should be aware of how their children are using cellular phones. There is nothing wrong with parents having access to a child’s phone to keep track of what texts, pictures and calls are being sent.” 

The FBI published “A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety” on its website (fbi.gov). One key recommendation is to keep devices in common areas of the home so that parents can visually monitor what students are doing. Also, parents can work with Internet and cellular service providers to set up monitoring software on home networks. For more information, contact Johann at (502) 732-7105.

Beyond filtering content, district technology experts use additional security measures to protect data and network access. 

“Beyond our content filter, we participate in the state’s data protection firewall, which is funded completely by the state of Kentucky,” Dean said. “This firewall serves as a gateway system that shields us from outside attacks from hackers that could compromise our data. Additionally, we protect our data locally by heightening security on sensitive files so that only authorized users have access.”

The physical and digital worlds overlap. What happens in one world impacts what happens in the other.

Students need guidance from parents and technology experts so they do not make mistakes they can’t fix.

The Center of Technology and Innovation exists not only to protect district data but also to be a resource for parents who need guidance on protecting their children from online hazards.

 

Carl Roberts is director of public relations for Carroll County Public Schools.