Should Snapchat remain banned from WHS?


The snapchat ban can prevent students from contacting their peers for school work. PHOTO/Nicolas Barbieri

Nicolas Barbieri, Opinion editor

   In the past few months, when WHS students opened the Snapchat app, they were surprised to discover that it was no longer functional on school property. While the administration’s response to student frustration was that it was a necessary step to take, the ban  was done without announcement, or information as to why the app was banned. In my judgment, Snapchat was banned prematurely without a true understanding of the negative consequences of the ban on student communication for valid and appropriate reasons. 

   Though I understand that the decision was made to combat forms of inappropriate use, I believe that it is mostly used for proper reasons, and that banning it was an oversight of the positives the app brings. 

   In many ways, Snapchat has replaced iMessage and similar messenger apps as the go-to way of communication by the student body. This shift towards Snapchat can be explained through its ‘Add Friends’ feature, which allows students to search for peers and send them a friend request.

   Therefore, Snapchat makes contacting peers not already part of one’s contact list much easier, whether you need to ask someone a question or start a group chat for a school project. Even in writing this article, scheduling interviews with my peers was easier to do so through the use of Snapchat rather than through iMessage or similar apps. 

   In fact, the Associated Press-NORC at the University of Chicago (APNORC) found that 75 percent of American teens use Snapchat. Although this number is likely different at WHS, the level of popularity in general of the app makes it the most useful way to make contact with students not currently part of a friend or class group, including for projects and school work. 

  Many students at WHS, such as sophomore Austin Cranmore, use Snapchat with their study groups as well as for teams and clubs.

   “Sports teams use Snapchat in order to connect with and give players updates,” Cranmore said.

   Larger group chats are made much easier on snapchat, and the majority of sports teams use it in order to send out memos and important information. I think Snapchat made it much easier for clubs, sports teams and other groups to communicate with each other. I think the ban failed to recognize the importance of this app for communication.

   “I pretty much only use Snapchat for group chats, especially sports team group chats,” junior Mark Leonardo said. “I think the ban makes it harder to communicate with the team. Turning off the wifi isn’t a solution to this problem, as many team members don’t have good cellular data and so they may not receive the information.”

   If the ban was done to prevent possible future misuse, I believe that if a student misuses the app they should be punished separately, rather than having the entire app banned.

   “I wish this was handled differently,” Cranmore said. “I don’t think [Snapchat] should be restricted to everyone.”

   Furthermore, the lack of consulting or explaining with students over this decision is worrisome. I think that consulting students over what they use Snapchat for, and whether they think the ban is necessary, would have at least spread better understanding of the administration’s policies by the student body. Also, Snapchat was banned without announcement, and without a meeting on why this was.

    “I think people understand where [the administration is] coming from, but it may have been more beneficial to both sides if they had gotten the perspective of students first,”  sophomore Amy Robson said. “It also wasn’t effective because kids can turn off their wifi.”

   The Snapchat ban doesn’t prevent sending snaps (as students can turn off their wifi) as much as it prevents group chats from communicating properly, because some students don’t have great cellular data. 

   However, the WHS administration is open to listening to students about their concerns over the banning. 

   “I am really proud of several students who came forward in remarkably kind, caring, intelligent, appropriate and professional ways,” principal Paul Peri said. “Helping to educate various decision makers and to share the school-friendly manners in which Snapchat is also used. The reasons they provided have given me hope that the app would be unblocked.”

   As to why snapchat was banned, Peri highlighted several reasons the administration may have blocked the app.
  “Removing apps clear up bandwidth within the school,” said Peri. “Blocking this app intended to help students remain just a bit more distraction free, and Snapchat had been used internally for poor decision making purposes.”

   I think that, if Snapchat was banned because of misuse, this misuse should be discussed and explained better by the school administration. The WHS Responsible Use Guidelines ask for students to be responsible for practicing positive digital citizenship, but without knowledge of why the app was banned, students cannot make informed decisions on social media usage. If the app was banned to prevent misuse, the ban doesn’t address the larger problem of unhealthy practices in digital citizenship.