Fatima Al-Sammak, Editor-in-Chief

It’s not even a surprise anymore to see students walking through the hallways with their heads bent down, scrolling through their phones. Whether it’s because they’re talking to their friends or scrolling through their news feeds, most of those students will most likely be on some sort of social media or news site. Yet, here’s where the problem lies; almost all social media sites are blocked at school. So what determines which sites are blocked and which sites are okay to use on school campuses? Well that’s all in the hands of the higher ups working at district.

In order for schools, especially high schools, to recognize which sites require the need to be blocked, the LPS district will issue out certain policies. These policies are created for schools to follow as sort of a guideline, and they must be interpreted in accordance to state of federal laws. It’s not uncommon for LPS to have lots of policies; that much is understandable as it is definitely needed in order to keep all of the schools on the same page. Whether these are grading policies or lesson policies, they are all created to give students an equal chance of success at school and beyond no matter what Lincoln public school they attend.

But one of the most disputed policies amongst high school students would have to be the ones put on social media sites, more specifically the ones that block the content of said sites. And although sites like that can be particularly annoying, especially for students who love to spend time online, there is good reasoning behind the decision to block them.

The first purpose is to have online access at school. High school students aren’t simply allowed to use wifi at school for pure enjoyment, but rather it is to enhance the learning experience. So being allowed to use social media and other fun sites such as those will be very distracting, especially in class. And instead of learning and paying attention to the teacher in class, kids will be on their Chromebooks or phones looking up the latest trending topics on Twitter. When it comes time to take a test or do homework, the student will have no idea what to do because they did not pay attention or learn the material while in class. So blocking those sites is currently the best means of avoiding problems like these, and to have students able to perform they best they can at schools.

Another reason is managing inappropriate content and respecting parental concern. The internet is a vast place and what young students can see on social media can be a variety of content, including content that can be very inappropriate. Hearing songs with crude or foul language may not affect someone who is 18, but could affect someone who is 14 whether it is in the way they think or what they could end up saying later on. This leads to problems in the household as maybe the parents don’t accept their children being exposed to such images. The parents may also not like their kids to go on certain sites or to look up certain topics that are particularly inappropriate, so to avoid further problems amongst the student population, their parents, and schools, these guidelines were implemented.

Additionally is a reason that not many think or even know about, which is bandwidth. LPS has limited bandwidth as the money used to pay for the internet comes from local and state tax. This means that the district isn’t able to afford strong enough bandwidth to have almost 10,000 students across the district be able to use wifi to access social media, listen to music, or stream videos all at the same time during the school day. But there is just enough to support the educational mission of the district as the district’s priority of giving students internet access is to help them meet their educational needs.

Lastly, and probably the aspect LPS is most concerned about, is privacy. Lots of social media sites ask for information such as phone number, email addresses, and other personal information when having you sign up. For LPS though,  they are not allowed to give out student’s information without consent. And as impossible as it sounds, people who are extremely tech savvy can, in fact, get student information simply from hacking into the network and getting access to the school’s data. Although that is very unlikely to actually happen, LPS wants to minimize those chances even further by limiting the ways in which people can get their student’s information, which happens to include social media. So to avoid any sort of problems with privacy, they block such sites.

And while that’s all said and done, there is still debate on being able to use one particular site at school, Youtube. After conducting a survey at Lincoln Northeast High School, it was discovered that the site most students wished they would be able to access at school is in fact youtube. When asked for the reason, almost all of the students replied with something along the lines of needing to use it for educational purposes. And after doing a little bit more research, it was realized that that sentiment is true considering how many school related videos there are available on that site. Some were more lecture type while others explained certain concepts in more funs ways, and lots of students have actually found them to be extremely helpful for when they are doing their homework or they don’t understand something from the way that the teacher explains it in class.

Social media is not a problem. But when students begin to use it incorrectly, that’s when it starts to become a problem. For that reason, LPS has created policies to eliminate any sort of distractions that could sabotage student’s learning abilities. And that is why LPS’s blocking policies must be respected and understood.