Suncoast Christian College deputy principal Greg Mattiske watches students Emmerson Madden and Kale Medina as they use Netbox Blue CyberSafe-School software.
Suncoast Christian College deputy principal Greg Mattiske watches students Emmerson Madden and Kale Medina as they use Netbox Blue CyberSafe-School software. john mccutcheon

Coast college's cyber safety net

INTERNET monitoring technology has been credited for boosting the safety of students at a private school.

The implementation of state-of-the-art Netbox Blue CyberSafe School software at Suncoast Christian College has prevented a student from being caught up in a sexting scandal and also saved students from self-harm.

Year 7 to 12 students have been using school laptops both on campus and at home since 2009.

Previous filtering processes were able to block students from inappropriate content and social networking sites while on the school's internet server, but as soon as they logged on at home, the protection was no longer available.

Deputy principal Greg Mattiske said Netbox allowed them to shift from a system that blocked social networking sites to one that monitored its usage.

"There are a series of trigger words that send an alert to us if there are any signs of cyber bullying or a student is contemplating any form of self-harm," Mr Mattiske said.

"The alerts are only triggered when there's been a policy violation. We are not recording all of their internet activities.

"This is not a Big Brother situation but a chance for us to boost our pastoral care."

The software has already alerted the school to a series of predatory messages that were sent to a student through Facebook.

Mr Mattiske said they were sent from an adult outside the college asking a female student to send nude photos of herself.

"We were able to detect these messages and prevent them from reaching the student and causing distress," he said.

"The incidence of cyber bullying has decreased since we switched to the new system and our pastoral care team has been able to intervene if we think a student is considering self-harm."

Mr Mattiske said while there was some resistance from students who were "not too keen on having their unfettered freedom limited" by the monitoring program, the software encouraged students to take responsibility for their internet usage.

"It also provides peace of mind for parents who were saying that we had sent these laptops into their homes and they could not always supervise their usage," he said.

"This provides some boundaries and encourages safe use."

The college is in the middle of a Cyber Safety Week during which Brad Huddleston, author of The Dark Side of the Internet: Restoring Balance in the Digital Age, will speak to parents and students.



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