Tech Department Block Sparks Debate

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These two sentences fill the screen whenever students try to access a blocked site on school grounds.

    By Tyler M.

At the start of October, Duxbury High School blocked a variety of new online gaming and shopping websites on student laptops in an effort to keep students on task in the classroom. When laptops were distributed to students before the start of the school year, it was almost instantly obvious that certain websites had been blocked. The amount of blocked websites has quickly increased. The block is resented by some students, accepted by others, and supported by teachers and members of the administration. According to the technology department, there is reasoning behind it.

Said Mr. Woodford of the tech department, “A lot of the students aren’t super happy with it, because a lot of the gaming websites that they’ve been playing have been blocked, and we’ve even had some students shopping during the day [that no longer can]…”  The tech department hopes that the block helps with the educational process, and it appears to be working.Teachers have given feedback that the new block has helped to increase students’ level of focus in class.

The tech department was correct in assuming that the students who play games and shop online during the day don’t approve of the situation. However, non-daily gamers in the school show various thoughts about the decision. A few, like junior Noah M., are frustrated that the situation has come to a block, but think it is necessary. “Teachers are not able to watch all computers in their classes,” Noah M. said. “[The block] is the only way to make sure students are focused on their schoolwork, and not playing Tiny Tanks or whatever… It is not a perfect system. However, it is the best one we have.” Others, like senior Robert M., believe that if teachers make sure that students close their laptops when wanting special attention for an important concept or lesson, it will have the same effects as a block and will not cause as many negative reactions. School psychologist Mrs. Ryan agrees with that argument, saying that the temptation is always there to do other things when laptops are open, regardless at times of whether the owner is a student or a teacher.

Mr. Stephens, however, argues that the temptation is exactly the reason why blocking sites is necessary. “When [teachers] wanted kids using them [for educational purposes], [kids] were [frequently] on the blocked sites… [The truth is] kids have access to online games and shopping sites at home; [they don’t need it here]. I [also] love online games, however I don’t [play them] at work. So I think the impact has been positive [because it has decreased distraction].”

According to a survey conducted by the American Association of School Librarians, a majority of schools across the United States filter websites available for their students. Judging from that data, the question continues, in this digital age, to have an impact in education that extends beyond Duxbury High School.

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