Strategies Schools Are Using to Curb Social Media Abuse

By Tim Elmore

Remove the Mirrors Solution 

One North Carolina middle school came up with a way to curb TikTok use among its students: removing bathroom mirrors. For the Southern Alamance Middle School in Graham, North Carolina, it was affecting attendance and productivity. Students at the school were “going to the bathroom for long periods of time (and up to nine times a day) making TikTok videos,” Les Atkins, a spokesman for the Alamance-Burlington School System, said. 

The school chose not to ban cell phones for safety concerns—namely, the record number of school shootings on school campuses last year. Parents want to know they can contact their child. The faculty believes that students need to learn how to be responsible with devices and that removing them steals that opportunity. Technology can ensure that all students are accounted for. So, this middle school removed bathroom mirrors and uses a “digital hall pass system” to track its students. 

Remove the Phone Solution

Hundreds of students walked out of classes and off the school campus when they heard that portable devices were recently banned inside Madison High School in Houston, Texas. School leaders and board of education members decided to outlaw smart phones, noting the data that points to phones as not only a source of distraction but of anxiety and even depression. 

It was a well-intentioned decision, but their students feel empowered to protest what they don’t like, and, in this case, they did just that. The very phones that were outlawed are the source of their high sense of agency. Students admitted this was a long time coming. One of them said it’s not just the anxiety and the distractions, either. Madison Rittenhouse said, “It’s the fights and kids bringing weapons and the kids and their drama.” So, this school chose to do away with them.


Remove the Options Solution 

Countless middle and high schools have taken a different, more hybrid route. Knowing that 95 percent of teens between ages 13-17 report using social media, and more than a third say they use it “almost constantly” (according to the U.S. Surgeon General), many schools have chosen a solution in the middle. 

Classrooms have a wall hanging with pockets for students to place their phones inside as they walk into class. When a teacher wants them to use their portable device, they retrieve it for the classroom project and then return it immediately afterward. At the end of school, students are free to take it home or to their after-school activity. This solution recognizes that technology is neither good nor evil but can be utilized for educational purposes while on campus. This is an answer in the middle.

I want to know your perspective. Is a school right to ban the phones? Do students have a right to bring their portable devices into the bathroom? How about the classroom? What is your school doing, and what solution do you feel is the best long-term answer? 

Click here to let us know your thoughts on the best ways to prevent social media abuse.

Strategies Schools Are Using to Curb Social Media Abuse