Duke It Out: Social Media Blackout


This is boring.


[It’s pretty obvious that the average CollegeCandy reader has some very strong opinions. Opinions that she likes to share with everyone on the site. We love a strong woman (unless she happens to be charging at us with her fists raised), so we thought we’d give her a real forum to discuss her thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. Every Friday I’ll be featuring a hot topic (like soul mates!) and leaving it up to you, the readers, to duke it out. So, read it and get your debate on in the comments section below!]

Schools all over have been experimenting with social media lately – some of them getting into it and some of them encouraging their students to stay out of it. Now Harrisburg University of Science and Tech are blocking all social media from the school’s network including Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and AIM for a week. They’re not the first school to try a move like this, but my question is, is it right?

I think we’re all willing to admit that we’re maybe a little over-connected, maybe a little obsessed with our social media and it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world not to check our Twitter feeds every two minutes. I’m not striking out against the school not supporting social media – it’s their network and if they don’t want students using it that way, it’s their prerogative┬áto block those sites. My problem is that this is an experiment. That’s right, a guy at Harrisburg saw his teen daughter juggling a lot of social media and decided to see what would happen if he took it away. Except, instead of conducting this little experiment in his home, he chose to use his position at the college to pull a social media blackout for a week. And then proceeded to tell virtually no one about it. My qualms about the experiment’s ethics aside (hello, consent?) the bigger question is, is this something the school should really be policing?

I talked a while back about school’s trying to force community policy to curb student binge drinking, and I feel much the same on this issue. Sure, we all know that we overdo it a little on the Facebook updates – just as we all know that if you can’t remember where you live when you leave the bar, it’s probably not fun party time for your liver – but is it actually our school’s business to step in and dictate this stuff for us?

OK, in this case, it’s not that the school is against social media (it is a tech school, after all) they just wanted to study the effects, so maybe that’s not so bad. And as I said, the schools should have a right to police the things that students use their network for, since they are the ones providing it. I just can’t help but get a little squirmy at the Orwellian-ness of it all; just making rules and taking things away without warning and then we all just have to live with it.

And not even have a chance to Tweet about it. Gah.

What do you say? Am I overreacting to a harmless little experiment? Or is this a much bigger issue about how school’s get involved in our lives? Duke it out!

Candy Dish: This is a great idea. Not.
Candy Dish: This is a great idea. Not.
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