University campus ban on social media for one week

University campus ban on social media for one week

Summary: Pennsylvania's Harrisburg University has banned social media access for all students on campus for a week in an 'academic exercise' to see how the students cope.


Provost Eric Darr of the Pennsylvania Harrisburg University of Science and Technology has sanctioned a week long blackout on social media access for all students on campus, in an 'academic exercise' to see how the students cope.

Darr, which when interviewed by NPR, explained that though he cannot restrict off-campus students and access through mobile devices over the cellular networks, all campus computers and wireless networks would restrict access to Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging ports and protocols.

As an industrial psychologist, Darr is adequately qualified to consider the evaluation of behaviour on industry and the workplace. As students hold back on immediate employment by attaining university accreditation, now seems the perfect time to trial this theory that social media may be damaging - or not, to the workplace.

Not all students at the university will be banned from social media however. This will allow a comparison to be drawn up in the form of written academic essays based on their experiences, to potentially find better ways of communicating for the right thing.

Students and the Generation Y as a whole have adapted their ways of communicating by taking advantage of what is readily available to them. The argument of "which came first: the chicken or the egg" can be used in this instance too; mobile technology and always-on access to friends, statuses, social media and online content have been forced upon us by the manufacturers. We're not complaining, though. As humans by nature we adapt to our evolving surroundings and social networking by far takes advantage of this.

The superficial ties between acquaintances and not friends per se could dilute the friendship experience, something that social media critic Jaron Lanier explains. Some use social media to communicate on a mass scale with hundreds, thousands or millions of people, whereas some take the more conservative approach by limiting their online spread to their pre-existing 'vetted' friends.

More often than not, and I suspect the vast majority of people who use social media and instant communications, only pull back from the constantly updating experience when they suffer a negative social blow; an online version of a major friendship group bust-up, for example.

This isn't the first time that this 'experiment' has been enacted. It was only a few months ago that a prominent figure of my friendship group was forced off Facebook with a password change in order to save her undergraduate degree. Facebook had simply taken over her life. We all took advantage of this in true student prank style, by posting lewd, highly offensive and pornographic images to her wall for her return to the online community.

Perhaps the campus wide ban on social media will rekindle the phone call? I highly doubt it to be frank. I do however believe that most students cut off from their online safe havens will spend most of their time trying to circumvent the restrictions over anything else.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Unified Comms

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  • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

    I'd be curious to see if productivity goes up or down for the students. Also if the computer labs and library usage increases or decreases.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

      @Loverock Davidson I agree. I remember a story some time back about a student union (I believe in the north of England where I'm from) campaigning to have these 'quick access PC's' in the library for printing out coursework to be blocked from social media access, to allow those who need them to use it.
      • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

        @zwhittaker Facebook is cancer
        the anti facebook movement is growing every day
        there's diaspora and there's even an anti-facebook dating site. see recent post in the Anti Facebook Movement blog:


        Recently, there has been a growing interest in the "Anti-Facebook Movement". The best known example is, the Anti-Facebook social net. Now we hear on another site,, an Anti-Facebook dating site for people who ban Facebook or just doesn't like it. The site is full of slogans like: "Hate Facebook - with passion", "Looking for relationship, not relationship status", "Love people - hate Facebook", etc. The site is free for anyone except Mark Zuckerberg, who should pay 500,000,000$ for joining. "One dollar for every soul he corrupted", says the site's owner, John Purian. I interviewed him last Sunday.
    • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

      @Loverock Davidson
      I think productivity will increase. One would think a person would be more focused on the tasks at hand rather than wondering and constantly looking at, for example, Facebook and checking status updates. Very interesting study since it seems the hype right now is bursting with social media buzz.
  • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

    I'll be interested in seeing the outcome of this. Students (people) have become so reliant (addicted) to the net and most can't seem to live without it. I admit I'm online everyday for work and use social media on a regular basis; but I can live without it in my personal space. People need to learn how to 'unplug' and get back to the basics in opinion. But, again, this is an interesting study to follow.
  • Big Brother in PA

    The experiment is too brief to generate serious protest, and looks like a way to whitewash a policy of internet censorship for adults. Beyond the issues of censorship, these students are paying a small fortune (this is a private school) for the HarrisburgU's services, which include internet access. They're running into issues any other internet provider should be facing, and I pray they do not get away with closing the net. A university must provide open access to all sources of information if their faculty and students are to perform research; they're censorship flies in the face of their mission. Finally, Facebook can not reach out of your monitor and 'take over your life'. The word "addiction" is meaningless here, and devalues the horror of the real thing-- you should be talking about habituation instead.
    • Not Big Brother

      @dunmerbob "censorship"

      This is not censorship. The university owns the internet connection and should be allowed to decide what is done on it. Bandwidth costs money so this isn't exactly free.

      But read the article. This is a one week controlled experiment to see what effect this has on student productivity. This is not an outright forever ban on social networking.

      As for addiction, yeah the word gets flashed around onto most anything that people do to excess. However, addiction is not limited to drugs. It can be anything that people do compulsively and end up having, physically or mentally doesn't matter, little or no control over. OCD might be a better diagnosis of 'addiction' to FB and twitter, but addiction is the common phrase.
      • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

        @boomchuck1 Sorry, but I see no evidence of a "controlled experiment." They are going to ban some online social networking activities from the Uni's internet service. Students with phones or access to computers off-campus will still be able to continue with these activities.

        At the end of the week, they're going to ask students to write up essays about their experiences.

        There is nothing remotely scientific or "controlled" about this experiment. In my opinion, it's just a Provost who is wielding his power to do something that he thinks will be provocative and garner attention.
  • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

    It is true that some people tend to overdo it with Facebook, Twitter, et cetera.

    But suspending access to FB and T. makes no more sense to me than it would to suspend access to the internet generally. I remember when there was a saying on college campuses that once you get heavily into "news" (Usenet newsgroups. Remember?), you can add a year to the time it will take to get your degree. This is unfortunate, but college students ought to be their own masters, and run their own lives.
  • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

    I first encountered this story by local news-heads who were reading a bit about it recently on the local morning news.

    I found the concept a bit bizarre - but then heard subsequently a note on radio news about a supposed study that showed that high school students who regularly did homework, with facebook available during the time, received about a half grade lower than students studying without access to facebook during the time of studying. When I search the net for articles about this, I ran into
    which bases the article on a study in Britan.
    • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

      @lwvirden Thanks for the link - very interesting read!
  • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

    I suspect that some people are going to view this "week with the social" as an imposition on the students. Since it's only scheduled to last a week, I also suspect that the time will pass pretty quickly, if the majority of students focus on the task at hand, i.e., studying.

    Others will view this as making the students nothing more than guinea pigs for social experimentation. Sorry to say, but that's the way a large part of real life treats us. We're all the subjects of an on-going experiment in social conditioning, wherein advertisers bombard us with product and service adverts to see how we respond. That particular experiment, of course, has been going on for decades and has a subject population in the billions.
  • Limited results unless texting is blocked...

    I suspect that many students blocked online will simply resort to phone texting, unless of course they have mobile broadband, in which case they are not really blocked at all!
  • Suicide rates up

    You heard it here first.
    • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

      @klumper I had to laugh...
  • Wow.

    Creepy. It's always a pleasure to see my hometown make headlines. I wonder if it will spread to nearby schools. <br><br>While I agree that some are addicted to social networking, for others it is a valuable source of information. Myself and a few others regularly link to CNN/MSNBC news articles to our pages. Otherwise, it is just a place for me to KIT with friends and family. <br><br>OTOH, I don't really see this as working out too well, as most students who have cell phones can still access Facebook and Twitter easily.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week


    Oh, be sure your Institutional Review Board has approved your experimental design for psychological experimentation on human subjects, and that you have all the signed informed consents on file from them. You DO have informed consents, right?

    Otherwise, all federal funding for ALL projects at your university may be at risk of being cut off -- as it should.

    From all I can learn about social capital, bottom-up leadership, sources of creativity, and psychological safety this proposal is exactly the opposite of what you should be doing. It is not the students who talk to each other you should be worrying about -- it is the students who do NOT talk to each other, who fragment, become isolated, drop out, get into drugs, and end up on the roof with automatic weapons.

    Let's start with cell phones, one obvious thing to attack youth over. And with good reason: Eight year old technophobic girls can master the use of a cell phone, whereas 45 year old dual PhD white male faculty members cannot. Why is that?

    Which group would you say is more able to cope with life?

    Yes, surely, your whole world view, your mythology, that highly trained isolated fragmented brilliant idiot savants are what make for progress IS being challenged and threatened. As is your "educational process" that turns social aware, feeling caring human beings into such machines, which ironically arrive just as industry has no further need for them.

    No, everyone does NOT want to be YOU.
    Or even like you.

    We've seen what YOUR model has done for solving world problems, and it is NOT pretty.

    Time to move over and give "social intelligence" a chance to operate, instead of trying to kill it so you can deliver more of your quack solutions to solving problems and surviving the stress of life.
  • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

    Yes, what a pantload. The vast majority of students will access social networks on their smartphones. <br><br>You either control your life or let it control you. The strong will always survive. The weak will Twitter their lives away - as they ALWAYS HAVE, one way or another.
  • Moronic!

    HU is a non-residential campus, so the ban would only be on campus...and there is a Starbucks a block away in the Whitaker center with free Wi-Fi.

    The provost is a moron and there is a movement to get him replaced.
  • RE: University campus ban on social media for one week

    I'm sure many student have already found a way to bypass filtering. A week is too much for them :D. BTW proxy software works great