Social media educator Sean Smith says configuring WiFi access is a band-aid solution for teaching children and youth to use social media in a positive way. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press)

B.C. school district blocks access to social media in the classroom

Students can’t access Netflix, Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook when on school Wi-Fi

High school students in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows went back to class this week asking for the Wi-Fi password, only to be told they won’t be able to access social media on it.

School District 42 has configured Internet connections at its six high schools to block access to Netflix, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook on devices connected to school Wi-Fi.

Assistant superintendent Shannon Derinzy said the decision was made with support from each principal, after counsellors vocalized concerns that students were too attached to their social media and not paying attention in the classroom.

“It was becoming an issue,” Derinzy said.

What once was passing notes to your friends has turned into sending each other Snapchats during class, and officials are grappling with how to handle students using social media while on campus.

“We’re trying to say these are realities of today – actually a valuable education tool – but how can we use them in meaningful ways,” Derinzy said.

READ MORE: Victoria middle school cutting the chord on cellphone use

Social media educator Sean Smith says configuring Wi-Fi access is a band-aid solution, however, for what really needs to be addressed: teaching children and youth to use social media in a positive way.

“The problem doesn’t lie in the device, or in the application,” Smith said. “The problem only lies in the fact that we are in denial that they exist.”

Smith, founder of The Digital Hallway, said social media posting is an expected skill to have nowadays for most careers, with employers looking at a candidates’ accounts before hiring.

Educators need to adapt to incorporating the technology in the classroom, he insisted.

“If you find that you have two dozen kids that are sitting there surfing Facebook in the classroom time, maybe the problem isn’t with the device, maybe it’s the teacher,” he said. “Why does a kid get distracted? Because they’re bored.”

Smith suggested it can be as simple as adapting school projects – like creative writing assignments – to integrating a students phone.

“It’s about the creation and creativity of a story, and that story can be done on Instagram or Snapchat.”

Blocked WiFi could cost parents in data usage

Derinzy said staff are aware students can just turn to using their own cell phone data, with the Wi-Fi being down. The district will be reviewing the reults of the ban later this the fall.

In the meantime, increased data use over the span of the school year could cost parents hundreds on their phone bills.

There are also apps out there that re-route servers, allowing websites to sneak around these kinds of blocks.

“When you tell a teenager they can’t do something, what’s the first thing they’re going to do? They’re going to find a way around it,” Smith said. “So rather than find a way to block [social media], embrace the technology [and] new ideas into the classroom.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Three arrests on guns, drug charges after shots fired in Oliver

Two men from Penticton involved in arrests at Oliver home with assault rifles and drugs

Heads up, it’s fawning season in Penticton

Baby deer seen frolicking through downtown Penticton Wednesday afternoon

Okanagan School of the Arts evicted from Penticton’s Shatford Centre

The school faced massive revenue loss during the COVID-19 pandemic

Penticton RCMP express concern over allowing public drinking

RCMP said they expressed their concern to the city but will do their best ensure safety

WATCH: North Okanagan golf cart stolen, then returned

Homeowners have footage of two men taking the cart and then bringing it back

Police watchdog investigating fatal crash in Kelowna

Kelowna RCMP received a report of a single-vehicle collision on Bulman Road near Highway 97 on June 1

Kelowna council greenlights ‘The Wedge’

The wedge-shaped building will be built at the corner of Leon Avenue and Water Street

Vehicle stolen in Revelstoke recovered near Salmon Arm after occupants suffer overdoses

Police say they were alerted to the vehicle after occupants treated by ambulance after drug use

Province looks to seize Kelowna home owned by alleged drug trafficker

Michelle Collins and Nigel Byrne were also recently investigated by Kelowna RCMP for drug trafficking

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Highway 1 closed after body found near Hope

Coroners Service reportedly on the scene, highway has been closed for 10 hours in both directions

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Most Read