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Decatur Township parents have content concerns over school-issued iPads

Posted at 6:38 AM, Nov 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-08 10:41:03-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Parents in Decatur Township have to pay $120 a year for their children to have a school iPad, but the network restrictions stop at the school doors, meaning there's no way to stop them for accessing inappropriate content. 

Kyong Farnsley said when she found out her oldest child was getting an iPad from school, they went to a meeting for parents and students to learn about how to safely use the technology. She was told the iPads would have restrictions from inappropriate content. 

Most of the restrictions are built into the network at Decatur Township Schools, but when the iPads come home and connect to the home Wi-Fi, there are no blocks in content.

"I can pull up [a] porn site and this is my fourth-grader's," she said. "That's just disturbing to me."

A spokesperson for the school district said they recently gave every student a Wi-Fi hotspot that has the same restrictions as the network inside the schools.

Sharena and Jonathan Thorne said their daughter was using the iPad to access social media sites. Jonathan said she made a Facebook account that said she was 18, which allowed her to talk with others on the site.

The district said if parents want certain sites or applications blocked, they can call the specific school. The district can remotely block access, but there's no way for parents to do it themselves. 

"The distraction of having things that are inappropriate becomes more of the problem than anything," Jonathan said. 

The school district also says they encourage parents to monitor their kids' iPad usage, but parents say they want it to be easier for them to control the content on the devices.

They're concerned less about what their children might gain from the technology and more about what they might lose.

"Don't send the iPad back with her anymore," Jonathan said. "You break some innocence and it's gone forever."

At nearby Indianapolis Public Schools, a spokesperson said it's up to each school whether iPads go home. The spokesperson said most schools don't allow kids to take the iPads home.

"I wanna keep my kids innocence as long as I possibly can," Farnsley said. 

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