Friday, September 30, 2016

So, You've Lost Access to iMessage: The Responsibility to Speak Up!

Two apps that many students across our district have consistently used responsibly for communicating with friends, classmates, parents, and even distant relatives, have been blocked across our system: iMessage and FaceTime.

It leaves some students and parents asking a fair question: Why?

The simple answer is easy: 
Many of our students did NOT make wise decisions when using these apps.

The more important answer, though, is a larger life lesson.

Understanding the Decision to Remove Apps

When putting these tools into our student's hands, it is accompanied by an iPad Pledge agreement that each student signs. In that agreement students give their word to follow the rules outlined for appropriate use of the iPads.

Statement #3 on that pledge reads:
I will follow my teacher, or principal’s judgment as to appropriateness of an application, and understand they may ask me to discontinue use of an application that is not appropriate.

While FaceTime and iMessage have been removed from the iPads of individual students who have been distracted by these apps all along, the distraction from learning and general misuse related to the use of these apps at school has grown to the point that something larger had to be done. The decision to remove these apps was a collective decision encourage by educators and administrators across our system.

It is easy to be angry with SDW staff for removing the apps, but remember that the primary responsibility of teachers and administrators is to keep students focused on learning. It is no fault of these people that the privilege was abused by a growing number of students.

The Life Lesson

These apps, a privilege for all and a benefit to many, were removed from all student devices. Even if most students made the right choices with these apps, the growing problem caused all students to lose the privilege.

And that is a fairly consistent lesson to be learned about life. The inappropriate actions of the few can sometimes lead to unfair consequences for all. There are so many examples to point out.

Perhaps the company you work at has a loose policy on start times, but an increasing number of employees begin to abuse this privilege and show up later each day. What do you think will happen?

Perhaps a small, local charity offers their resources to as many as they can help, but an increasing number of people not in true need begin to take advantage of the resources, leaving those truly in need without the resources necessary? What do you think will happen?

Perhaps a community park is open to all, trusting that those using it will help maintain the park. When a few people stop cleaning up after themselves, stop taking ownership of the park, start vandalizing the park, what do you think will happen?

The list of examples is wide and real. It is the cause of frustration for many of us, young people and adults alike.

Take Action

There is always something we can do, though.

  • We can identify the privileges we are given. 
  • We can speak up when people take advantage of those privileges.

Take this small example of losing iMessage and FaceTime on student iPads.  

Did you ever use these apps inappropriately yourself? Did you ever remind a friend or a classmate that using iMessage inappropriately during school was not acceptable?  Did you ever support an adult or another classmate who was trying to send this message? 

The answer may be that you never had opportunities to speak up to encourage somebody to do the right thing. But then again, maybe that opportunity was there. Did you seize it?

Speaking up is not always easy, and it may not always be welcomed feedback. However, when we do own the responsibility to speak up, we remind others that the privileges we have are worth appreciating.