You’re in the Commons at 4:30 p.m. with your laptop, searching for the syllabus you know your teacher sent. You can’t find it, so you move to Facebook, ready to volley a question to your physics group chat about the assignment, but you’re halted. This domain is blocked.
It may surprise administrators to learn that Facebook is not the demon they think it is. Other sites that the school’s WiFi network does not block are more insidious.
When students want to procrastinate and play games, they freely click to places more popular, diverting, and potentially detrimental than Facebook. Sites like Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram can be more addictive than Facebook. Buzzfeed and Upworthy can drag students into endless cycles of article and video surfing. Barstool Sports can sidetrack students with crass, satirical sports coverage. And SparkNotes and CliffsNotes offer chapter summaries, thematic explanations, and character identifications for a plethora of books, allowing those so inclined to cheat their way through assignments.
Facebook, however, functions as an instantaneous, interactive version of email.
Students use Facebook to ask homework questions, plan club meetings, organize pep rallies, post backstage photos from the play, and write to friends studying abroad. Students use Facebook to connect—often productively. It makes no sense for administrators to fear this particular site for derailing studying and enabling cheating but then ignore sites that are the true problems, leaving them unblocked. The school’s Facebook policy is at best outdated and, at worst, hypocritical.
In this increasingly technological age, why should we students be barred from choosing how, when, and why to use the internet? As soon as we leave what is undeniably our high school bubble, we’ll face the real world: college, and the tantalizing choices of online autonomy.
Administrators, if you’re going to block Facebook, just go ahead and block all the other sites mentioned above (and then some). But if you’re feeling contemporary or even progressive, why not let students roam the internet free?