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Sun Prairie schools expand online security service to parents

SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) — As Sun Prairie Area School District works to stop bullying in schools, parents have a new tool to help them know when to intervene.

This year, the district is allowing parents access to its school device security service, called Securly. It monitors searches and website visits, flagging concerning content like signs of self harm or bullying, along with inappropriate content.

“It’s our job to be able to follow up on that stuff so that we can see does this make sense, talk to the kids, think about what they were doing, have that conversation and then move forward in whatever way makes sense,” said Keleen Kaye, the district’s Digital Media and Innovation Coordinator.

The district started using Securly last school year, but now, parents will get weekly reports on their child’s activity, too.

“We want to partner with families to be able to make sure that we can manage our kids as best as possible, especially when something scary or concerning comes up, that whoever is the closest to them in that moment, can intervene when when it’s necessary,” she said.

Every student in the district has access to their own tablet or Chromebook, provided by the schools. Starting in sixth grade, students take them home to continue their work outside the classroom. So, Securly also gives parents control after school hours, if they want to limit screen time.

Kaye says it’s also been a great way for parents to see what their kids are learning about. Plus, it allows parents and teachers to have conversations with kids about the power of technology.

“Just taking every opportunity and every mistake and using it as a learning opportunity is really how we’re trying to help kids be their best selves, their best digital selves,” Kaye said.

Experts believe the best way to make sure kids are staying safe online is to always keep an open line of communication, talking about what to do if they run into something concerning online.

“We need to talk to our kids all the time. We need to ask questions. It’s not an invasion of privacy when you’re talking to them all the time,” Kaye said. “It’s important to talk about and practice things that can be scary online in a really safe place.”

The district met with parents at the beginning of the school year to explain the new service. Securly also offers parents the option to sign up on their own for a service for personal phones.

Meanwhile, district officials are also working on other efforts to improve learning environments and stop bullying, creating a bullying task force earlier this year.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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