OPINION: JCPS should unblock Instagram

Recently, Instagram has become yet another site and app blocked on Jefferson County Public School Wi-Fi, joining both Facebook and Gmail in the JCPS crusade against social media. Of course, most classrooms are not the proper place for using these platforms of communication. They can be distractions at a time when learning should be a priority. Still, this line of thinking ignores how little of an effect these restrictions actually have on focus in the classroom. Banning Instagram is ineffective and causes its own problems.

The most obvious proof of this policy’s ineffectiveness is a student’s ability to use data rather than Wi-Fi. This feature, however, can cost more money, which leads to only those who can afford data being able to access Instagram, Facebook and Gmail. When students use too much data this can add to their plan, and even if they can afford the price, it is still costing more money than is necessary.

When people need to use these programs for classes, they are faced with an inability to use school computers effectively. For example, in classes like RedEye, it is necessary to check the publication’s social media or email someone for an interview, and this policy limits the ability of the staff to do this. 

If a teacher does not want students to use their phones, they often put policies in place, such as phone cubbies, to restrict access. These rules are not completely effective, but allowing the teacher to decide when the use of phones is appropriate rather than blocking social media can help in classes where use of these programs is necessary.

After school, Instagram is still blocked, meaning even when there is no expectation of learning students without data are restricted from using this app.

Social media can obviously be used to bully other students, but the ability to use these platforms on school Wi-Fi gives schools more authority to take action. When a student is being bullied at school, teachers can step in to help.

Instagram should not be banned on school Wi-Fi. It causes more inconvenience than the desired effect. It is important in promoting change for teachers and students to contact their school board representative about this issue, and it is especially important for JCPS to stop this crusade.

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Phoebe Monsour is one of the two opinion editors on RedEye this year. She enjoys discussing politics can usually be found debating with the other confused opinion editor. Phoebe is co-president of Current Events Club and hopes to help her club and the opinion section of RedEye grow. You can contact her at [email protected]

3 COMMENTS

  1. I am a JCPS teacher and I use an Instagram account to communicate with my students daily. I post pictures of our daily agendas and activities that we do in class. Students also DM me questions about homework. I find it to be a student friendly, valuable resource.

  2. Thanks for your article, Phoebe. You make good points. I too would like to see Instagram and Facebook unblocked because anymore they are standard methods with which people communicate with work, volunteer opportunities, and extracurricular events. I’m a district employee, and I operate a work-related Facebook page. Currently, I have to email documents (images and content) to myself and then post them using a phone. This is cumbersome and inefficient.

    The Gmail access is blocked by the state servers, but you are correct that other social media sites are blocked by the district and could be reversed immediately with the proper say-so. Often a districtwide block of Instagram or YouTube is used to quell an emergency, which can be defined as a call for help from a principal in the event of a THOT page or some type of harassment aimed at JCPS people or groups. Several years ago there was a video of a student’s suicide posted on YouTube. YouTube pulled this video for inappropriate content, but in the time it took for that to happen the district temporarily blocked YouTube. A larger issue involves the lack of consistency. The district has operating guidelines for computer use and social media, but I am not aware of a district policy adopted by the board that allows a coherent approach to what is blocked or unblocked or how once something becomes blocked how it goes back to becoming unblocked.

  3. Also, if you’re serious, sign up to speak at a board meeting. Let board members hear your thoughts and why this is needed. You could probably read what you wrote if you can read it in three minutes.

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