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Wisconsin Schools Try a Social Media Blackout

Deriding social media as an entity that has adverse effects on people and society is a well-established narrative. There’s the anecdotes about couples out to dinner and glued to their phones. Cautionary tales that detail the depths of Facebook addiction. Antisocial Media crusaders who speak on the negative impact that social media can have on social skills and interaction when you trade life for likes.

It’s no secret that social media can be a massive source of distraction; but now the state of Wisconsin is attempting to show some facts and figures and to how distracting it can be.

Four public schools in Madison, Wisconsin have announced a pilot program that will study the impact that social media has on students. Students at two high schools and middle schools will be unable to access campus Wi-Fi when attempting to use certain social media apps, such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram.

The aim is to ascertain data to compare to other schools without the social media blackout in place, and truly see the correlation between unfettered internet access to school performance.

For most of us, the concept of Facebook in physics class is a foreign one. Text messaging was a new—and expensive—feature for those in my age bracket, so cell phones didn’t provide as much of a distractive element in school as they now do. Personally, I could not fathom trying to study geometry postulates and theorems when I’ve been tagged in a post and my notifications are lighting up. It’s a new aspect of the learning environment that has proven challenging for teachers and students alike.

Results of the study will be available by the end of 2017’s school year. It will be intriguing to see what they show.

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