New Software Allows West Des Moines Parents to See Child’s Online Activity

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – West Des Moines School District’s tablets have a new feature that parents like this year.

The district added a software called “securly” back at the start of the 2017-2018 school year that allows parents to see what their child searches online.

West Des Moines School Technology Director Brian Abeling said the software is a web filter, and parents can control settings when children are not on school grounds.

“When the Chrome book is at school, it falls under our web filtering guidelines. As soon as the device is outside of school, and that doesn’t matter whether that is at your house, or Starbucks, or Panera or wherever that is, it is going to fall under what you the parent have set for those guide lines. So, it is going to be at least your level and then if you want to ratchet it up and say ‘hey I also want to have YouTube, social media and other things blocked then the parent has that choice,’” Abeling said.

Third through 12th grade students receive a Google Chromebook at the beginning of each school year, and return it at the end.

Abeling said different age groups may need different blocking methods, when it comes to creating guidelines.

“Now the filtering is set at different levels. So as a parent, say you have two children, one who is a third grader and the other who is a 12th grader you are going to get two emails every week telling you information about each child. In addition to seeing that information you also have the ability to set blocks and set different permissions for your children,” Abeling said.

The software will send an email each week to parents showing what their child searches. The parents can then click on each link and will be directed to the exact website their child was earlier on.

Abeling said parents love the software, but wish there was one more feature.

“That time out period, being able to turn off internet at 10 o’clock, that is a big request. That is one area people are really after,” Abeling said.

“Securly” is currently building a way to allow parents to set time boundaries on devices, but Abeling said the technology is not ready for beta testing.

Abeling said parents' feedback overall is very positive.

“We bought securly for one basic reason: parents need the tools to be able to help kids out with what they are doing at home,” Abeling said.

The school district will continue to use the software in the next coming years.