How to find the right content filtering solution

Content filtering is a must for K-12 schools. In many places, it's the law. But how do you find the right one for your students from the dizzying array of content filters available?

December 29 2022 by

Haddayr Copley-Woods

Drinking water filter as content filtering

Define what's important

Ensure your solution focuses on what matters to you and your school. A few areas to focus on:

Student safety on all devices, wherever they are

Does this solution filter all devices, including iPad and Mac? How about BYOD devices and Chromebooks?

Ensure that the software you chose genuinely filters all types of devices, wherever students use them. Students using school devices at home continue to need protection and management, so make sure that you use a product like Jamf School, that protects students and devices regardless of location.

Parent involvement

While some parents might question the need for filtering at all, others may feel very anxious about any permeability whatsoever. Offering a parent the ability to use an app like Jamf Parent to increase filtering and ensure the wellbeing of their children as they transition from school to home —as well as offering clear and detailed reports on security and privacy concerns such as those offered by Jamf— can help.

Tempered by privacy, of course.

Student privacy protections

It's vital to protect student privacy. Any software you choose should follow best practices and all laws concerning student privacy, such as: guidelines set by the US Department of Education that adhere to the Protection of Pupil Privacy Amendment, the UK's Age Appropriate Design Code, or New Zealand's Privacy Act of 2020.

Protections beyond privacy laws

A 2021 study by the US-based Center for Democracy and Technology showed that 69% of parents are very concerned about their children's privacy in schools and online, and numerous other studies back this up.

A 2022 CDT study shows that over-surveillance endangers vulnerable populations disproportionately, such as LGBTQIA students, low-income students, non-documented students, and students of color — who are disproportionately over-monitored and exposed to mental health risks, discipline and even physical danger more than other students.

So you might want to go a step further for these pupils, as Jamf Safe Internet has done. Our "prevention over inspection" approach allows schools to help children be safe on the internet without invading their privacy.

Defense from unknown attackers

Sure, most anti-malware products do a good job of blocking known viruses, malware and adware. But malicious actors create new ways to attack vulnerable systems every day. Whatever system you use should incorporate behavioral analytics, sandboxing and real-time alerts to catch unknown sites or new malware as Jamf Protect or Jamf Threat Defense. Behavioral analytics can stop malicious actions by understanding how malware and dangerous sites take certain actions or use certain phrases to attack.

Partial blocking of sites like YouTube or Google

YouTube and Google can be powerful learning tools, but can also offer a gateway to unfiltered content. Find a security solution that allows you to deny access to content granularly without completely restricting access to these sites.

Seamless connection to other software

A filtering and security solution that can work seamlessly with an MDM provider and can partner with trusted vendors to offer not only world-class security but also increased educational options gives you a lot more for your money.

Your MDM provider should have an easy way to incorporate filtering and privacy controls into their management, and the filtering and privacy controls should also work well with your MDM software. Smoother and more automated protections are going to be safer than those that don't work well together.

We humbly suggest that you consider Jamf

We got our start in education, and have continued to keep the needs of students, educators and Mac admins in mind as we've expanded and improved upon our offerings. Whether you use Jamf Pro or Jamf School to manage your school or district, we have a complete security, privacy and content filtering system that hits on all of the above touchpoints.

We've thought it all through, over the course of decades. We'd love to chat about how we can help your school.

Try Jamf Safe Internet with a free trial.

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