The social network: Our Facebook dilemma

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Graphic by Jeff Zolan.

As I crunch through my AP Calculus homework, I leave my laptop’s volume on full blast. Come to think of it, regardless of what I am doing, I leave my computer on the highest audio notch. All the while, there isn’t any music playing. So what’s the point of leaving my F12 key cranked?

I sit there waiting, sometimes even praying, for that cacophonous and rather obnoxious First Class “bing” to save me from solving the 5th derivate of x^6*secx. That divine intervention prompts me to quickly leap onto my bed towards my laptop to check my mailbox. When I see the sender is Facebook, I throw in the towel, and turn away from homework. Facebook has become more than an addiction, it is a part of life. I’m not just speaking for myself; a fair majority of the student body is clicking through Saturday night’s photos instead of taking class notes. In many ways, we prioritize Facebook over our studies, a dangerous sacrifice.

Most teachers are not oblivious to the fact that their students are on Facebook during class. But our teachers cannot ban laptops in the classroom, as laptops are actually useful tools for research and note taking. Computers also help our school come one step closer to becoming a “paperless” institution. Obviously laptops are too essential to do without. That leaves us with one option: ban Facebook on the Milken server.

In a recent poll conducted by The Roar, 64% of students said they do NOT want Facebook blocked on the school server. To that hefty majority, I urge you to reconsider your vote. Think about it from a financial standpoint: Facebook wastes our parent’s tuition money. A Milken student spends approximately 1,260 hours (7hrs a day*5 days/week*36 wks/yr, which is being generous given all the holidays) at school a year, which means each hour is $25 of tuition. Let’s be generous and say a student uses only 20 minutes a day on Facebook while at school. That is to say 1/21 of their day is wasted which amounts to $1,428 a year. You can buy another Mac Book Pro with that money squandered.

I’m not trying to say Facebook is evil (I have it up right now), I am only trying to relay the notion that school is not the place for your social life, especially at a private school. Your teachers work hard on their lesson plans. By allocating your attention to your computer screen rather than towards your teacher, you are electing to make a sacrifice which will certainly cost you a grade. I firmly believe that if Milken decides to block Facebook there will be a rise in the student body’s GPA. When I need to get work done, I go to my father’s office simply because he has Facebook blocked. He recently implemented this regulation at his firm and has seen a productive shift in his employees’ work habits.

At the end of the day it is all up to you, the student. If you value your social life over your academics, then continue to waste time, money, and efficiency.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I disagree with the banning of Facebook on the Milken servers, because if it is not Facebook that people are using to not pay attention during class (or to not get work done during free periods) it is another form of distraction.

    I also think it is a little absurd to be calculating the amount of money ‘wasted’ while on Facebook in relation to the tuition each student pays. What about real socializing, as in talking to your friends (not just merely poking them on Facebook)? How much time do students ‘waste’ socializing rather than doing their work during free periods?

    If the usage of Facebook is prohibited on the Milken servers, students will simply find another way to check their recent wall posts or to update their statuses. For example, my iPhone 4 sports a decent 3G connection that allows to check my Facebook without using a laptop. And although it is way more difficult to use Facebook on a phone during class, I promise you that there are a million more distractions that a laptop provides other than Facebook.

    I think that each person should be held accountable for their own learning. It’s just like cheating: yes, you will get a higher grade, but are you truly benefiting yourself in the long run? If I want to use Facebook during class, I’m only hurting myself. This is an issue that should be tackled personally between students and their parents and I do not believe Milken needs to do anything about it.

  2. Why are students “not paying attention during class” to start with? A main point I am trying to get across is, draw a line between your social life and your school life. Pardon me if i sound a bit tyrannical but in the classroom the student should be paying 100% attention to the lesson and nothing else. Students should not be able to choose whether or not they want to pay attention.
    You obviously misunderstood the point of the article if you believe my calculations are absurd. I was trying to emphasize a point by helping readers visualize the effects they are inflicting upon themselves and more importantly their families by using Facebook. My calculations are accurate, and if your myopia wishes to negate this valid argument then I fear you are not embracing the truth, friend.
    Andrew, lesn’t be naive and act as though Facebook isn’t the primary source of in class distraction. Rather than refute my stance, as a diligent student (which i know you are), acknowledge that there is a time for work and a time for play. That is all.

  3. Great article, Matt. I definitely believe that Milken students are much better off without the constant distraction of Facebook.

    I do feel, however, that banning Facebook on the Milken network is just placing a band-aid on the problem. Constant accessibility to technology has reduced the attention span of students everywhere, particularly in the classroom. If Milken bans Facebook, I have a feeling students would resort to fantasy sports, AIM, Skype, anything else on the internet to take their mind off whatever is being taught during class.

    I think if Milken decides to act on the internet problem, all or nothing is the best approach. Turn off wi-fi when class is in session, or leave it as is. Blaming Facebook for this huge problem is like blaming Bernie Madoff for American greed as a whole, or Matt Kemp for the Dodgers’ failure to make the playoffs. There’s just so much more involved.

  4. Joe I completely agree with everything you’ve said. I feel like an “all or nothing” policy should be put under consideration by the administration, but then again, wouldn’t students complain about not being able to do research?

  5. I don’t think it matters, to be honest. If Milken bans Facebook, kids will just use proxies. It’s as simple as that. If a change happens, it needs to happen through people, not computers. Computers are easy to bypass and only a real dialogue can change the way we interact with the web. Granted, we’re not so easy to change; but I feel that that’s the only way to actually get things done. The administration needs to work with us, not against us.

  6. I mentioned an idea in the principal’s advisory that seems to solve your issues. Most universities have the ability to shut off wifi in their room only. Teachers at Milken with this option would be able to turn it off during lectures, and students would still be able to take notes. When it is time for group work and research, they can shut it back on. Makes the most sense to me., all parties win. Thoughts?

    • Alec,
      With all due respect, I think our classrooms are too close together for that to be an effective solution. What’s to stop someone from conecting to the second closest wifi repeater instead of the one within the classroom? Of course, this doesn’t even begin to take into account “MiFi” like devices and smartphone teathering a la the HTC Evo. I think that there is no technical solution that will eliminate the problems we face.

  7. Before I comment, I want to thank Matt and the Milken Roar for bringing up this topic.

    Matt couldn’t have said it any better, facebook is a distraction. But the real question is that since students vary in their amount of discipline, should the school block facebook for everyone?

    As many of you may know, facebook has been banned at Milken before, but facebook has evolved into something more than a distraction tool but rather our technologic identity, something very vital in the 21st century.

    As we pass through the 21st century we will begin to find more benefits from tools such as facebook and youtube– even the milken roar, while simultaneously realizing that the school structure we’re in now is in fact a legacy system, out of date and ready for reconstruction. With reconstruction however comes discipline from not only students, but from teachers and and the administration. Many problems such as the facebook distraction will come into play as we move into the future, and it is self discipline, not artificial restrictions, that can solve a problem as such.

  8. hey matt,
    i definitely see your point, that facebook is very distracting and costly. however, banning facebook on the server does not teach self discipline.
    macbooks have a lot of different applications, and one is called self control. you can temporarily ban various websites simultaneously while beginning to accomplish work. the program is called self control, and is something that allows me to focus and forget about facebook because it is not available to me. this program differs from complete elimination of a website, and offers me the choice of banning facbeook on my own personal computer when i choose, or not. perhaps milken students can invest in such a program, because it is free, and promotes self discipline on some level.
    just a thought!

    -michelle

    • Another thing that is better than the self control app which doesn’t waste your time downloading: Turning off your wifi.

  9. fantastic thought michelle, thank you. I will certainly look into “self control”… i just wonder how the greater Milken population will find the will power to shut down their social life.

  10. I I used FB for school purposes today for the Turkey Drive. I set the “Milken Community Service” Page statues and I feel I reached more people. I use FB in many of my classes and still maintain really good grades. So I guess I just don’t understand why we can’t each be responsible for our own academic success. (BTW, I reading this during class. Should I not be allowed to access the Roar website either? just a thought…)

  11. Celia, thank you for your thoughtful response.
    Unfortunately though, not every student is not as gifted in the field of academia as you are. I laud you on the ability to multitask but not all students have such abilities. Therefore, I see you as an outstanding outlier.
    By the way, it is great that you put status’s for the Turkey Drive up on Facebook just like I do for the Roar. But can’t that wait until students get home? Isn’t that where the sova is anyways? Notifying them at school kind of pointless.

  12. Matthew,

    Great article! You bring up important issues and some interesting solutions. We have been battling this in the Middle School as well. As we are now one-to-one (and what fantastic opportunities that affords our whole community!), we see every day how hard it is for 7th and 8th graders to resist the all of the temptations (facebook included) having a laptop at their fingertips at all times brings. I wholly agree with your contention that students must learn to “draw a line between [their] social life and [their] school life…. in the classroom the student should be paying 100% attention to the lesson and nothing else. Students should not be able to choose whether or not they want to pay attention.” Well put!

  13. The way you get rid of this problem is by not allowing computers in class. Very few people use them properly, and for the most part students get more out of physically writing down notes rather then typing them on a computer.

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