EDITORIAL: Welcome to the Information Age

Try to stuff the genie back in the bottle

Schools, above all, should be looking forward, not trying to hold back progress.

So it really seems strange that schools in B.C. are attempting to block their students’ access to social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, along with Netflix.

We say attempting because this ill thought-out policy is doomed from the start. Even if students weren’t likely to find a way around the block, they are just going to switch to using the data plan on their phones. Or, for that matter, switch to another of the myriad of social media channels.

It’s kind of like the story of the boy with his finger in the dyke trying to hold back the flood, except in this case, more holes are appearing all the time.

On the other hand, educators in those schools could do just that: educate. Social media, instant access to information and all the other things that come with living in the Information Age are an integral part of these student’s lives. There are many things, though, that they need to learn.

Not using social media while a teacher is on stage would be a basic rule, just like you shouldn’t pass notes. But the solution to passing notes wasn’t banning paper.

It’s certainly reasonable for teachers to require students to put their devices away if they aren’t required in class, but we have to question whether any school has the right to deny students access when they aren’t in class. Recess, lunch and other breaks are the students’ own time, the same as when they leave the school grounds.

Having a policy like this in place carries with it the implication that there is something wrong with using social media. That’s not a message educational institutions should be sending.

Even if it is only for five hours of the school day, there is no point in trying to turn the clock back.

The way forward is not to say no, but to teach when and how.