Education

Wake County blocks popular Snapchat app at schools

Wake County high school students are in an uproar because Snapchat, a popular photo-sharing app, has been blocked on school Wi-Fi networks.

Students have complained on the Wake County school system’s Twitter account since discovering Monday that they couldn’t use Snapchat in school to share photos and videos. School officials say Snapchat doesn’t serve an instructional purpose, but students contend losing access to the app ruins their school day.

“@WCPSS blocking snapchat just makes me dread school even more, congrats now students are even more miserable,” Randi Martinez, a student at Holly Springs High School, tweeted Monday.

Students have created an online petition asking the school system to unblock Snapchat. The petition, which had 124 signatures on Tuesday, calls Snapchat “a fun way to enjoy our school and is a great way to spread news and information.”

Snapchat allows users to send photos or videos, called “snaps,” to friends. The snaps disappear after a short time.

GlobalWebIndex, a marketing research firm, said that Snapchat is particularly popular with teens, with 84 percent of the app’s estimated 200 million users younger than 35.

Since last school year, Wake has encouraged students to bring in their own electronic devices – such as smartphones, tablets and laptop computers – to use in class on school Wi-Fi networks. But school officials say that some students are using the Bring Your Own Device program for non-educational purposes.

“Snapchat does not have instructional value and doesn’t protect the integrity of the learning environment,” Lisa Luten, a Wake schools spokeswoman, said Tuesday.

In addition to Snapchat, Wake blocks other apps such as Facebook and some websites. Luten said district administrators constantly review whether to block or allow specific applications and websites.

Students have tweeted their dissatisfaction about losing access to Snapchat.

Anna Olson, a high school student, asked Wake on Monday what students are supposed to do now during lunch if they can’t use Snapchat.

“@AnnaOlson68 Dunno. School work? Actual face-to-face conversation? Something crazy like that,” Wake responded.

Some of the most colorful Twitter exchanges have taken place between Martinez and the school system. Wake, which has more than 97,000 Twitter followers, has earned national recognition for its sassy tweets.

“@WCPSS HOW MANY RETWEETS TO GET SNAPCHAT UNBLOCKED?’ Martinez tweeted Monday.

“@randixmartinez HOW MANY RTS TO GET YOU TO PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY DURING SCHOOL?” Wake responded.

“@WCPSS I’ll put my phone away when snapchat gets unblocked,” Martinez declared.

Eventually, Martinez’s mother, Donna, interceded and backed Wake.

“@randixmartinez @WCPSS ....or your Mom can take it away. Study! (And this Mom hates snapchat, keep it blocked),” Donna Martinez tweeted Monday.

Wake’s decision to block Snapchat has drawn support from some teachers.

“@WCPSS from a teacher. Thanks for blocking snapchat. Too distracting for these kids who are obviously addicted to it w/ no edu value,” tweeted Amy Fansler, a science teacher at Fuquay-Varina High School.

Lauren Janzekovich, a Spanish teacher at Holly Springs High School, tweeted that the moral of the story is to stop using school Wi-Fi for Snapchat.

Some students noted that the fight over Snapchat occurred at the same time as a bomb threat Tuesday led to the evacuation of Sanderson High School in Raleigh.

“WCPSS blocked snapchat... Then we have a bomb threat... Related?” tweeted Hunter Moore, a Sanderson student.

If nothing else, the tweets about Snapchat have made the past two days entertaining for Twitter users.

“My kids are pretty young yet, but I have to say I’m already getting a lot of enjoyment out of the @WCPSS Twitter account. Cheeky,” tweeted Evan Huntley, a Raleigh parent.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui

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