Out with the old and in with the new. Books have been replaced by laptops and tablets in Huntsville schools, but computers come with the Internet and access to everything the web has to offer and that has some parents concerned. Cyber bullying, inappropriate content, and illegal downloads are just a few of the temptations that will soon be at the student's fingertips.
"I would definitely say Facebook should be blocked and MySpace if people even still use that," said Kathy Ward, the mother of two teenagers. She and other parents all say they hope precautions are being taken to make sure students are not venturing to inappropriate sites during the school day.
"Any of the social media should be blocked because they are in school for a reason. We are paying taxes for them to learn not play and socialize," Ward said.
But the school system they have taken all the appropriate measures to limit web surfing in the classroom.
"They are on the schools wifi service and it goes through the district's filtering system. It's designed to meet or exceed federal standards so sites that are deemed inappropriate, those are blocked," explained Huntsville school system spokesman Keith Ward.
"We have had both people inside and we have had consultants from the outside that have looked at this whole network. These are people that have worked with educational communities in other areas to basically ensure that we are doing everything that meets or exceeds the federal guidelines," explained Ward.
But the laptops go home with the students, and all of the filters do not apply once they leave the school. For example, Facebook is not blocked at home, but other sites are.
"That computer is designed to go through the Alabama Super Computer before it goes out to the World Wide Web and has a series of filters in it that meet or exceed federal standards. So there again, sites that are inappropriate will be blocked from them being able to gain access to," Ward explained.
Facebook and Twitter are the social networking sites of today but Ward says the system is already looking to the future.
"If there are issues where we find places that could cause problems then we can go and put filters in that would block those other areas as well."
It is still not known whether or not Twitter can be accessed by the students while they are at school.