The younger generation adapts to technological changes faster. Teens today grew up with technology being an integral part of their lives, so it is not surprising to find the technology adoption rate is incredibly high. According to studies conducted in 2018, teens spend 12 hours a day on average being connected to the internet.
When you drill down into these studies, it gets even more interesting. YouTube is still the most accessed service among teens; understandably so since video content is the most attractive to this audience group. Surprisingly, Instagram and Facebook are both incredibly popular despite recent rumors of Facebook being more popular among older users.
That tech-savviness means teens are also very good at staying connected to the internet. As schools and parents try harder to control access to internet services and websites, teens find new ways to get around measures like firewalls with proxy unblock solutions.
Understanding the Impact
Before we get to the many interesting ways of getting around restrictions currently being used by teens, it is necessary to take a closer look at the actual impact of internet use among teens. Excessive use of the internet for negative purposes is still an issue, but positive impacts are not to be ignored as well.
In fact, teens are becoming more capable of finding information online for both personal and educational purposes. Their smartphones can now solve mathematical equations and find research papers very easily. Services like Google Scholar make positive use of the internet more common.
The negative impacts, however, are more prominently featured. Pupils are having trouble focusing attention for longer periods and some research has shown that there might be a negative impact on their academic achievements This is one of the many reasons why schools (and parents) try to deal with those negative impacts more seriously. There are several popular methods used by schools to limit access to smart devices and the internet during school hours.
Banning Websites as a Solution
The simplest of those methods schools use is blocking certain websites using firewalls. Network administrators can limit access to websites when students connect to the internet using the school’s network. This is a relatively simple method to implement, but it is not always effective – as we will see later in this article.
Social media sites are almost always the first websites to be blocked when this measure is implemented. Administrators can also block websites based on keywords (e.g. blocking websites that contain sexually explicit words in their name or URL) rather than listing the websites manually.
Blocking of apps and certain services is also very common. Snapchat and Instagram are commonly blocked by schools who offer school-wide internet access. Even school computers are limited from accessing sites that aren’t related to the students’ education.
The reasons behind the blocking of certain websites are easy to understand. YouTube is blocked so that students don’t spend hours watching funny videos and other content. Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites are blocked to make it easier for students to focus on their work.
Other sites that feature negative content such as pornography are naturally blocked to reduce the risk of exposing students to the negativity. Most school networks even block access to services like Netflix for the purpose of creating a healthier ecosystem for students.
Where There Is a Will…
That brings us to one interesting fact: students are very good at getting around such network blockages. Students hack blocks like that with easy workarounds, and blocking access to certain websites is not (always) effective. Students bypass the school’s internet limitation very easily by using an intermediary proxy server.
Today, every browser and computer can use a proxy server, and proxies are easy to find. There are thousands of proxy services that students can use for free. In fact, proxies are not only common as a free service but also easy to integrate with devices like smartphones and laptops.
Education Is Key
It is clear that firewalls are not the most effective tools for limiting internet access among students. Using simple methods such as proxies, students can still access social media sites and blocked services. Instead of using firewalls and adding multiple measures to prevent kids from accessing certain sites, a more effective method needs to be implemented.
That effective method is education. Kids who know how to be responsible with their internet use are less likely to access negative sites. They can also be more responsible when using web services and posting content on social media. By teaching kids to be more responsible, the impact of negative content can be minimized.