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Parents worry about kids’ digital access in schools

Local News

Parents grapple with it every day: staying on top of their child’s digital life. School districts are also in the same boat – but with thousands of kids under one roof, it can be tough.

Tim McGuire says he learned his niece, a Rochester City School District student, accessed inappropriate websites during school hours.

“I was angry,” McGuire said. “I was frustrated.”

McGuire says he’s gone to the school she attends, the Board of Education, and even the Department of Education in Albany for help.

“They don’t seem to make any honest effort to correct the problem,” he said.

We reached out to the Rochester City School District to find out more.  In a statement they told us: “The district monitors all student email and file folder accounts in order to ensure the safety of students.”

They also said they use a company called Gaggle to keep kids safe online.

Gaggle’s vice president of marketing, Rob Yoegel, says it uses technology to identify suspicious content on the school’s network.

“That could be something as simple as profanity or maybe an image that is risqué,” said Yoegel.

Yoegel says each school they work with has what’s called an “internet acceptable use policy.”

“We don’t believe in this walled garden approach for safety. We understand kids will sneak around,” he said. “So we want open gates, and provide teachable moments for students and educators.”

Yoegel says they can send “violations” to students or alert an emergency contact if something suspicious is detected.

“You want to make sure those students are becoming good digital citizens and digital leaders,” Yoegel said. “And their understanding that what they post online or say in an email or digital storage will likely stay with them forever.”

For McGuire, he says his are concerns about how much access students have to the computers.

“I’d like to see them do something about computer usage. There’s no reason they should have free access like that,” he said. ‘These kids just don’t know any better. They think it’s harmless.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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