MERRITT—The superintendent of School District 58 says school administrators do not monitor their students' social media activity.
While there is a growing trend toward social media monitoring by everyone from potential employers and parents to school officials, superintendent Bob Peacock says the district does not partake in what some dub "Facebook creeping."
"Except for MSS, sites such as Facebook and YouTube are blocked," says Peacock. Other blocked sites include those dealing with inappropriate material, like adult websites.
However, that does not mean that the district does not deal with issues revolving around the Internet and social media.
"We do deal with incidents, social media bullying; if someone goes out and records a fight and we're made aware of it, we go out and deal with it," says Peacock. He adds that there have been reports of cyber bullying at an elementary school in Merritt, although he won't specify which one.
The district does, according to Peacock, monitor websites that are accessed on the schools' networks during school hours. Peacock adds that most incidents related to social media activities by students are brought to the district's attention by students or parents.
Coquihalla Middle School principal Leroy Slanzi says he has not seen one incident of a student accessing an inappropriate site at CMS.
"We do not pay someone to sit and watch it," says Slanzi.
"What happens after 3 o'clock on their computers is out of our control," he adds.
Earlier this month, the Boston Globe newspaper reported that school officials disciplined 11 Melrose students after the high school received Facebook photos of them in possession of alcohol and tobacco. School officials then reportedly forwarded the photos to the police department for further investigation.
In Washington earlier this year, education officials threatened school principals with lawsuits if they did not monitor students' online activities—even during after-school hours—as an overall effort to stamp out harassment and cyber bullying.
"Kids today think what they're doing (online) won't affect them in the future," says Peacock, warning that kids need to be very careful what they post online.
Slanzi added that excessive use of the technology results in sleep deprivation and kids being less active, but says it's a societal problem, not just within Merritt.
Last year, Capio Nightingale Hospital in London, England launched a rehab clinic for those addicted to the Internet and other modern technology, like cell phones and video games.
But unlike most rehabilitation clinics, often catering to adults, Capio Nightingale's clinic is aimed at children, even as young as 12.
The clinic is designed, according to a report in the London Telegraph, "to increase off-screen social activities and improve the person's confidence in face-to-face situations, the lack of which may have made them more susceptible to technology addiction."
Ironically, Peacock says the technology is being encouraged during class time in district schools. For example, when a teacher asks the class a question, students have the option of answering in the form of a text message via cell phone. This method is said to encourage those who might not otherwise answer verbally.