Portsmouth schools use technology to catch worrisome online searches

Dorothy S. Bass

PORTSMOUTH — Whether distance learning or having students in classrooms, computers have been embedded in educational structures for years.

All students within the Portsmouth School Department currently use school-issued Chromebooks. The district had been rolling out a 1-to-1 program by grade before the coronavirus pandemic struck. Then plans changed. 

The Portsmouth School Department uses a program called “Securly,” managed through its technology department, to flag worrisome computer searches made by students.

“We were about 75{14f62f8d01b0e9e4416e7be29f093eee2960b1e4c60488fca25d8fca5b82c641} there,” Superintendent Thomas Kenworthy said in an email, but the pandemic “accelerated our plans, as it did for all districts.”

More:A year of living online has caused a youth mental health crisis. Can tech help us solve it?

With the power of the internet at youths’ fingertips, the possibility for worrisome searches is heightened. And youth mental health is already volatile.

Teen suicide, most often associated with depression, was the second leading cause of death for adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, according to the CDC, pulling from data spanning the years 1999 to 2019.

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