Guilford County Schools Unlocks Access To Social Media Sites

4:59 PM, Mar 22, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- When you think about social media websites like YouTube, you probably think of videos like this baby laughing at ripping paper. It has more than 56.5 million views. 

But, YouTube also includes educational videos, like lectures from Harvard University.

Educational videos encouraged Guilford County Schools to unblock YouTube from school computers last year. Now, the district is unlocking access to other social media sites.

All schools should be unlocked by the time students get back from Spring Break. Is it risky to open this door? Yes. However, the district's chief of staff told WFMY News 2 just about any tool can be used for harm, even a pencil.

"We need to teach people how to use these tools wisely and teach them how to use them well and not just shut everything down," Guilford County Schools Chief of Staff Nora Carr said.

Students at Grimsley High School are looking forward to accessing social media sites like Facebook and Twitter while they are at school. Teachers will be in charge of making sure students interact with appropriate material.

"My generation, we're the digital natives. We shouldn't be blocked from using these tools because they're only going to be developed more in the years to come," Grimsley High School Senior Kassra Homaifar said.

Why did it take so long? Part of it has to do with federal funding. To qualify for federal money, the district had to ban access to some sites. Now, rules have changed.

Plus, social media is more popular than ever. The district realizes there is a lot of educational value.

"The fact is students are online. They're connected 24/7 now. Historically, in schools, that's the only place where they have turned everything off. Yet, this is also how a lot of these kids access information, how they communicate," Carr added.

Teachers will also talk to students about digital footprints. In other words, instructors will remind students to watch what they post, because once it's out there, it's almost impossible to take it back.

Visit GCS' website to read the district's new social media policy.

Forsyth County Schools still blocks Facebook access at school and does not have any plans to change that right now.

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