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Pornography Discovered on School-Issued Electronic Device

Updated: Apr 1

Parents, do you know what your children can access on their school issued electronic devices? The following is one mother’s story. It should be a warning to all parents of children in public schools.

Imagine to your surprise your 8-year-old 3rd grader asked one day “mom, what’s a porn star?". That’s exactly what happened recently to a mother in Raleigh. Her son John (name changed to protect the innocent) confessed to playing a video game on his public school-issued electronic device. As any responsible parent would do, John’s mother Jenny inquired further. She never realized where the conversation with her son would take her. It all began one day last year at the beginning of school. John was riding the school bus when a couple of 4th grade boys showed him how to search for and play a “cool” video game on his school device. This was his introduction to the game, BitLife; a game rated for ages 17 and higher as M (which stands for Mature) due to sexual content and drug reference on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

Jenny reached out to the Pavement Education Project (PEP) after her exhaustive attempts to learn how her son, a minor, could access an age-inappropriate game on his school device and how she might protect him from the harmful content. Her experience is chronicled here as well as the results of research into the game and school policies concerning the use of school electronic devices.

After John asked about a porn star, Jenny learned that it was a job listed on the game. It turns out there is an exhaustive list of jobs the player can select from including escort, exorcist, exotic dancer, male stripper, moonshiner, nude art model, and many others. BitLife is a life simulator game that begins with an animated sperm to show that your life is about to begin. Players live a simulated life and have many choices in role playing. One of the choices is IDENTITY. When you sign in to edit your identity, the game allows you to change your gender, your name, your pronouns, and your sexual orientation (cisgender, genderqueer, non-binary, and transgender). There is also a link to an LGBT Dating App so the player can specifically seek out others of a certain gender identity. Other selections for roles include traditional ones with low-risk behaviors to a series of roles that involve risky decisions such as, but not limited to murder, drug use, and dating options, e.g. one-night stands and threesomes. As Jenny explored her son’s device, she performed a search history for the school year and found that he had used Google and Safari daily to access inappropriate material from websites not approved by the school district. Some of his internet searches were done during school hours and even in the classroom. On this discovery, she immediately notified her son’s teacher with instructions to not allow John back on his device. The teacher ignored her request, allowed him to use it and then informed the mother of her decision. Jenny immediately went to the school to retrieve the device and request that her son be moved to another teacher’s classroom. It was a week before that request was granted.

The experience continued with Jenny advocating for her son’s safety. She was assured by a school technology administrator, who had consulted with Wake County Public School officials, that it was impossible for her son to access age-inappropriate websites on the school device. With this information, Jenny took his device to the school’s vice principal and demonstrated how it could be done. She attempted similar searches later and sent the images she found, including many that were sexually explicit/pornographic, to the school principal. Expecting a response from the principal, Jenny was disappointed again that her concerns for her child’s safety were not addressed. Instead, she received an email that it was imperative for John to use his device so that he would not fall behind academically. Searching for a solution, Jenny made other inquiries including if she might provide her son with his own device. The school’s response was “no”. The school even stated that John was no longer using a school electronic device which Jenny learned was not true. Other attempts to safeguard her son from his device failed.

In her frustration Jenny reached out to ABC11 Eyewitness News. The story aired on January 25, 2024, which can be viewed on the previous blog. It was reported that the Wake County Public School District does have a web filtering system and settings to keep students safe while online. As Jenny explained during the interview, those filters are not working. She warned other parents to be aware of what their child might find on their school device so they can protect them from exposure to sexual material. In response, school officials stated they could not guarantee 100% that devices can be safeguarded for kids because new sites are always being created. They implied it wasn’t the school’s fault that John viewed inappropriate websites on his device as they are to be used for school related activities only and on school websites. They even insisted it was the student’s and parent’s responsibility to keep children safe on school devices.

In reviewing the school policies on use of school devices, Safe and Appropriate Use of Technology and the Internet, the excerpts below apply to the issue that Jenny reported to PEP. (Entire content of the policies can be found at:

There are processes in place to protect students while using technology and web-based instructional tools. All students will be trained annually in Internet safety. The district also uses Internet filters to remove most harmful content. District supplied devices and cellular hotspots provide filtering at school and at home. These protective measures do not relieve students of their responsibility to comply with all applicable policies and procedures and to use school system technology and networks safely, responsibly and in compliance with all applicable laws. Nor do they relieve parents and guardians of their responsibility to monitor and supervise safe and inappropriate use of technology and the Internet in settings outside of school.

Parents who do not want their student to be issued a WCPSS device may opt to provide their own for the student’s use at school, so long as the device is a laptop computer (no tablets), has the latest operating system, and includes a keyboard, camera, and microphone.  The device must otherwise be safe, adequate, and compatible with WCPSS educational services and technology resources.

It’s apparent that the school district failed this mother and her son for these reasons:

1. The school’s filtering system was inept at preventing John from accessing numerous adult websites.

2. Student training in Internet safety was either nonexistent or ineffective.

3. The tech user agreement was problematic as it presumed a third-grade student has the same intellectual functioning skills as a high school student.

4. School officials took little to no responsibility for what John stumbled into or

inadvertently accessed on his device and were reluctant to respond to a mother’s

request to protect her son.

5. The parent’s right to provide her child with his own electronic device was denied.

Like most parents, Jenny trusted that her son’s school device was safe for him to use. She never anticipated that he would be endangered by sexually inappropriate material and is concerned that images he saw on his device would forever be embedded in his brain. Unfortunately, electronic devices are not the only problem. Jenny learned that sexually inappropriate books were also in school libraries. Schools must be held accountable for failing to protect students from harmful materials as they shoulder responsibility for keeping kids safe when they are in school, whether physically or remotely. With the increase of online remote

learning, children are increasingly at risk for online sexual exploitation. The National Center forMissing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) shows a 35% increase in reports of suspected child sexual abuse online in 2021: a total of 29.3 million reports – the most ever in one year.

What can parents do to avoid what happened here? Although not fair, parents will have to shoulder the bulk of the burden to protect their child. Information is power. The following are suggestions for parents:

 Read carefully through the Tech Use Agreement for your district.

 Ask school leadership what they do to support teachers and protect students.

 Talk to your child about what to do when they see porn or violent content.

 Model appropriate use of digital screens.

 Set limits on use of devices and screen time.

 Check your child’s browsing histories every night.

 Report problems immediately to the appropriate school personnel.

The Wake County Public School System should take immediate action to remedy the harm done to Jenny and her son and to prevent other students from having similar experiences. If there are no fail-safe systems to protect children online, then school-devices should be used only in classrooms with vigilant oversight by a teacher. It’s time to consider replacing take-home devices with textbooks.

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2 Kommentare

All electronic, World Wide Web devices must be outlawed in all schools! Printed books only!

Similar to all voting machines will be outlawed! Paper ballots only!

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This is a very alarming and disturbing story. I commend Jenny for being vigilant and proactive in protecting her son from the harmful effects of BitLife and other inappropriate content on the internet. It is shocking that the school did not take her concerns seriously and did not provide adequate safeguards for the students’ online safety. I agree with Jenny that BitLife is not a suitable game for children, especially those in elementary school. The game exposes them to mature and graphic themes that they are not ready to handle or understand. The game also encourages risky and immoral behaviors that can have negative consequences in real life. I think Jenny should continue to advocate for her son and other…

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