RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – These days, kids use computers for just about everything, and schoolwork is no exception.
Right now, several Wake County schools are testing a program that monitors students’ online activity when they’re using school accounts. Board members got an update on that program Tuesday.
Knightdale High School students Meagan and Tanner Lawrence use school computers all the time. Last year, their school became the first in the district to test a program called Gaggle which monitors activity on school accounts and can block content considered harmful.
“They did inform us that there was a program in place to monitor activity on the computers for things such as, like, sexual Content, self-harm, intentions of harm at the school, or peers,” said Tanner.
Nine schools are now part of the pilot program.
If it picks up something concerning, “That flagged content is then looked at and reviewed by a safety team that is hired by Gaggle,” explained Marlo Gaddis, WCPSS Chief Technology Officer. They notify teams at the school who are trained to respond.
District staff says law enforcement is only involved if absolutely necessary.
“That might be if there was a specific threat to the school around school shootings, or if we are unable to reach a student who has threatened to kill themselves,” Gaddis noted. “We don’t monitor student text messages; we don’t monitor social media, and we don’t monitor personal resources outside of the Wake County resources.”
The Lawrences have mixed reactions.
“It’s good for some reasons like to prevent self-harm or to prevent like an occurrence of a shooting or something,” said Meagan, “But I honestly think it’s not ok because it’s like invading privacy.”
“I do think there should be some type of monitoring happening,” said Tanner. “There are some real threats out there and I think if there is a real threat then it does need to be handled.”