Students cope with social media bans


Several apps, including social media and certain games, have been banned by the district, causing conflict for both students and teachers. Art by: Stephanie Kang

Skyler Froese

As students in advanced placement classes settle into a new school year, they are struck with a new policy restricting iPads. As of the 2015 school year, most social media is now banned on school iPads.
No punitive measures from administration will accompany the ban. When students attempt breaching the ban, the iPad itself, not the teacher, will stop them. If they try to download social media apps, the iPad will remove the app store, camera accessibility and an email is sent to a media specialist.
“I was told to go home and set [my iPad] up on my own so I did,” senior Nicole Roach said. “I synced my iPad up to my cloud, and it downloaded all of the apps I had last year, and apparently some of them are restricted this year.”
This caused Roach’s iPad to disable the aforementioned features. At the time, Roach was unaware this year’s policy, so she was distressed by the unexpected problem.
It is possible to restore the camera and app store. To regain access to iPad’s disabled features, students must delete the app they downloaded. After deletion, the camera and app store will be restored within 24 hours.
A comprehensive list of the banned apps is on the RBHS webpage. This list includes most social media sites, with the exception of Twitter. There are currently no games that are banned. Staff and students can be notified of any change by following @MediaRBHS on Twitter.
“These changes are part of an ongoing, district-wide conversation about the desire and need for students to stay focused in an academic setting,” Elizabeth Shapiro, RBHS media specialist, said. “The decision to block social media apps is not set in stone.”
Since CPS introduced iPads two years ago, the district has attempted to develop its control on them. Last year’s free Apple server has been replaced with The Casper Suite. The introduction of The Casper Suite now allows for district wide restrictions on apps.
“We can push out apps and apply restrictions globally [with the new server].  We also can monitor how devices are used in order that resources may be managed well,” Shapiro said. “In short, the district strives to push out resources as seamlessly as possible. Casper is not inexpensive, but I’ve heard it referred to as ‘the Cadillac of Apple.’”
Shapiro says students have been “mystified” by the new restrictions. However, RBHS teachers have adapted easily to the new guidelines.
“There hasn’t been anything I wanted to do that I can’t do, yet,”  AP US history teacher Bryn Orton, said. “It really hasn’t had a huge effect but then again it’s hard to tell, like if they took it away half way through the year, maybe I’d be able to see a difference.”
RBHS media specialist Denis Murphy said the iPads have not caused any more trouble than usual. Murphy says students haven’t complained and that only about five to ten kids a day seek help when they encounter ban-related roadblocks. Staff like AP art teacher Abbey Trescott noticed that the new policy doesn’t create a problem; rather it offers a solution.
“We’re only a few weeks in, but so far I haven’t had as many students on their iPads in class as I did last year,” Trescott said. “Last year was a little bit of an uphill battle with being distracted in class with iPads. I don’t know if the new policies have anything to do with that or if students are still kind of settling into it, finding out how much they can be on them and how  much they can’t.”
The biggest setback teachers confronted this year is that they are also restricted from banned sites, such as Facebook, on school computers. Teachers like Orton and Trescott agreed that hiccups from the wifi or Schoology are no worse than last year, and they believe  these are unavoidable with any server.
Although the ban succeeds in keeping kids off of social media and other sites, there are holes that are being sorted through.
The apps that are currently banned are not fixed. The iPad’s new policy will fluctuate through the year, especially as new apps become popular.
“The list is not comprehensive or static. It will be updated or changed as needed,” Shapiro said. “Since Casper is new it does have its kinks, but everyone islearning and things should run more smoothly eventually.”
By Skyler Froese