Revere students looking for the latest TikTok challenge or for the latest posts on Instagram will no longer be able to do so on their school-issued Chromebooks. Last week, the School Committee voted to block social media sites on school-issued devices. The block does not extend to students’ personal smartphones and devices, but Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dianne Kelly said the committee could be looking at further measures to limit phone use in schools next year.
“We have struggled, and we have had many challenges with social media in recent weeks between students not being kind to each other, and we also had the problem … with a nationwide TikTok that went out requesting that there be violence in schools,” said Kelly. “Fortunately, that didn’t happen, but we had to respond to that.”
Kelly said that if the schools block the social media sites on the school devices, the district can at least bring down the overall temperature around the sites and lead to some times when the students are not impacted by social media.
Kelly said there has also been input from parents about limiting the use of smartphones in classrooms. She said Revere High Principal Dr. John Perella will be meeting with the RHS Student Senate and other students for additional feedback on the issue.
Kelly initially asked for feedback on blocking the social media sites from the School Committee, but the members said they were ready to move forward with the request and passed it as a late motion at last week’s meeting.
School Committee Member Stacey Rizzo asked if the social media sites, such as Facebook, had been blocked eight to 10 years ago. Kelly said there had not been an overall block on social media sites. “We do have blocks on sites that are harmful to children, and I would now argue that social media sites are harmful to children,” said Kelly. “But we did not have specific blocks on social media sites, which is what we would be looking to do now.”
School Committee student representative Elni Lopez said she thought it is a good idea to block the social media sites on school Chromebooks, but did note that some school clubs do use the social media sites to promote their events.
School Committee member Susan Gravellese said she also supports future action on phone use in the classrooms. “There should be an area where the kids can drop them where the teachers can monitor them,” said Gravellese. “We all have heard from a lot of teachers that there is a lot of use in the classrooms. After we get through the blocks on the sites, I think we should have further discussion about it.”