School district blocks students from using Facebook, Netflix on Wi-Fi
For students at a handful of high schools east of Vancouver, there are four fewer reasons to look at a phone in class.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Netflix have been banned from the free Wi-Fi networks at every secondary school in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, a move intended to help District 42's roughly 5,500 students focus.
The change took effect when students returned to classes last week, and district spokesperson Irena Pochop said many of the teenagers were not pleased.
"There was a bit of a kerfuffle on the first day of school," Pochop said.
But the experimental policy, which is being revisited in a couple months, was a response to a number of concerns from both teachers and counsellors, who worried social media was having a disruptive effect on classrooms.
District officials made sure they weren't banning apps or websites that are needed for any curriculums before moving forward. Twitter is still available, but Facebook and the other three didn't make the cut.
"Those were the four they identified as not having been used in class," Pochop said.
Some parents are hopeful the policy could produce positive results, but others have their doubts. Social media expert Sean Smith feels cutting off Wi-Fi access is just a Band-Aid solution.
Smith said if kids want to, they will find a way to bend the rules. He believes the real solution has to begin at home.
"We need to spend more time teaching our kids to be a little more effective and a little less distracted with these tools," he told CTV News. "I talk about social media or the internet with my kids every single day."
A number of Canadian schools already force students to keep cellphones locked in their lockers during school hours, and a middle school in Victoria went even further this year, announcing a full ban on the devices.
Central Middle School said there would be some exemptions for students, as officials deemed necessary.
With files from CTV Vancouver's David Molko