Smithers students blocked from some social media

Snapchat is completely blocked. Instagram and Facebook are only available when class is not on.

High schools across B.C. are limiting access to some social media sites and Smithers Secondary School is one of them.

Students would have began noticing the blockage on the first day of school this year.

Principal Jaksun Grice said the blockage of certain sites is not all day long.

“At Smithers Secondary, new this year would be the blocking of a couple of social media platforms during class time and one platform, Snapchat, during the entire day,” he explained.

The sites that are blocked currently are Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. The decision was made by Grice.

He pointed out Instagram and Facebook will be available to students on the school’s Wi-Fi before and after school, as well as during lunchtime.

“Those blocks are put in place in an effort to provide students with distraction-free class time,” he said.

Even though those sites are blocked, Grice pointed out students can gain access if it’s for class projects.

“If for some reason a student does need Instagram or Facebook, say to take pictures off for a project, then we can simply just allow access for a certain period of time while that kid is working on their project,” he said.

In his five years as principal, Grice said he’s been seeing a trend and couldn’t sit back and watch students become disengaged from education.

“It got to the point where I felt as principal, I couldn’t idly stand by and watch students be completely consumed by some social media platforms and totally disengage from their school work. For some students it’s incredibly distracting. They want to be Snapchatting quite often,” Grice stated. “This is one small step; it’s not a silver bullet. It’s not going to solve everything, but for some students it will help them immensely in their studies.”

High schools in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows limited access to school Wi-Fi for more social media sites for similar reasons. But according to Grice, some of the sites are used for bullying.

“I also look at some of the bullying issues that are arising from those sites and in particular with Snapchat. It’s kind of notorious for pictures, for inappropriate memes and stuff floating around that causes a lot of toxicity amongst the student body,” he stated.

Those images can easily be screenshot and sent around despite them disappearing after a few seconds. Grice said last Thursday he spent over two hours dealing with separate instances of students almost fighting over images on Snapchat.

It’s not the first time social media has been banned on school Wi-Fi. Grice noted about four or five years ago those restrictions came down.

For now, students will still have access to Twitter, YouTube and Netflix on the school Wi-Fi.

Bulkley Valley School District 54Smithers

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