Local schools support open social media policy

Four Madison schools ban social media

Starting May 1, four schools in Madison began blocking social media accounts on their WI-FI systems.

The ban includes sites like Facebook and Twitter, among 30 others.

The schools testing this policy in Madison are part of a pilot program through their district, to test student’s behavior with the ban.

Schools in our area disagree with the decision, they said it’s impossible to stop students, and doesn’t prepare them for life outside of school.

Vicki Lyons is the director of technology services at the School District of La Crosse.

“We want to make sure what we do with social media in the school district is to make it a usable source for students and for faculty and to use it appropriately,” Lyons said.

Part of using social media appropriately means teaching kids about what they call digital citizenship.

“It’s the same thing as if you are in the workplace,” Lyons said. “You have to be able to focus, you have to be able to do the work that you are doing, but then there are times when there are free time where you’re able to do other things. So it’s helping kids to learn to manage how they learn and what they do in a true digital environment.”

The school district has previously tried to ban some social media sites in the past, but officials said it becomes difficult to keep up.

“But over time, what has happened is that they use them on our phones, they use them at different times, and it almost becomes a cat and mouse game,” Lyons said.

At Holmen, every middle and high school student is provided a Chromebook as a part of their 1-to-1 program.

“Social media is not by any means banned across the district,” said IT director Greg Krueger. “We really have a philosophy of education and integrating that into our curriculum and teaching students proper use.”

They said banning social media doesn’t prepare students for life outside of school.

“They’re not going to be going out into an environment where internet is restricted just so that they can be forced on their homework for that week in college,” Krueger said.

In this age, schools said proper internet use for students begins at home.

“We need the help of all of our community as well as all of our parents to be sure our students are learning the best ways to be in this digital environment,” Lyons said.

Both schools also said Madison’s definition of social media is broad, meaning many sites teachers use for classes may fall under that category.

Madison’s pilot program is expected to last until the end of this school year.