AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin mom is asking for Eanes ISD to remove iPads from some classrooms after her six-year-old son saw pornographic images in class on his district-issued iPad.
First-grader Charlie Edwards googled search terms like “naked girl” and “sexy girls.”
In addition to pictures of scantily clad women, the search results also showed topless women.
The boy’s mother, Meaghan Edwards, said she first got a call from his teacher asking to talk. When the two met in person, Edwards expressed concern that Charlie was able to access the images to begin with.
Administrators soon joined the meetings and not long after they discovered other iPads were able to do the same searches and get the same inappropriate results, according to Edwards.
Edwards has since opted her two sons out of all iPad activity within the district.
“The school and the district are responsible for safeguarding our kids if they’re going to hand them a device,” Edwards said.
Currently, all elementary students are assigned a personal iPad they can use in class, whereas middle and high school students are assigned an iPad they can also take home.
Since the incident, fewer than 20 families have opted out of the schools one-to-one iPad program altogether, according to the district.
“We make every effort to make sure that those devices are as safe as they possibly can be for students, but even then we can’t ensure that every device, and every search that occurs is going to be absolutely fail-safe,” said Eanes ISD Deputy Superintendent Jeff Arnett.
The district does apply safe search filters, and added more after learning about the incident with Charlie, Arnett said.
However, in interviews last year with parents, the district’s own Digital Learning Task Force discovered similar cases.
One Bridge Point Elementary parent reported, “My second grader had a picture pop up on her iPad that asked ‘do you want to [EXPLETIVE]?’ in the middle of class. She can never unsee this. This was hard.”
Meantime, a Westlake High School and Cedar Creek Elementary school parent said, “My children saw things they should never have seen. All tech is a tool but it is like a loaded weapon in the hands of people who do not know how to use it.”
Edwards has since started a petition with nearly 400 signatures. Parents who sign the petition are asking Eanes ISD to place their child in a classroom without iPads.
Parents plan to speak to the Eanes ISD school board about their concerns during a school board meeting on Tuesday.