Students Flout App Bans

“Yes, of course I have illegal apps on my iPad,” said a freshmen when asked if he had unapproved apps on his iPad.

During the last quarter, a good number HBA students like this freshman received demerits for having unapproved apps on their iPads.

School-issued iPads are great tools. Students use them to take notes, to remind themselves of homework deadlines, and to access textbooks. However, many students admit to having used their iPads in class to play games and watch videos instead of doing class work. Some also use VPNs—Virtual Private Networks—from their iPads to get to blocked websites. VPNs connect users to a non-HBA network that serves as an intermediary so that the school’s system is unable to see what the iPad is accessing on the Internet.

At HBA, seventh through ninth graders are not allowed to have games on their iPads. Junior Skylar Kimura reflected back to when he was caught playing games on his iPad during his freshman year, saying, “I think that honestly [the school] should allow for seventh through ninth graders to download apps because I learned to not play games in class when I got caught and received demerits.”

One seventh grader, who wanted to remain anonymous like most students interviewed for this article, approves of the ban on games. “I think it is fine because some people might play games in class if they are allowed to have games.” However, said the ban is unfair. “I think that we should be able to play games since we are in high school and are responsible,” said a ninth grader.

High school vice principal Ryan Frontiera explained the ban on games is meant to “help middle and early high school students balance their workload and transition to the high school.” He said, “I know there are plenty of ways they could play games, but hopefully this makes it a little bit less distracting for them as they try to work on socializing with their peers and adjusting to middle and high school.”

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“While social media itself isn’t a bad thing, a lot of the behaviors or actions that occur on that platform just aren’t helpful or conducive to a productive school environment.”

Vice principal Ryan Frontiera

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The school also does not allow students to install most social media apps on their iPads. “I think the school has the right to choose what apps are banned, because they give us the IPads to use, ” said a freshmen. Another freshmen agreed, saying “They should be able to ban apps, since the iPads are for educational purposes.”

Other students feel that they should have the right to choose what apps they have on their iPads. When asked if they have unapproved apps on their IPad, many replied “yes.” Some students felt the social media app ban is too extreme. “I see why they ban dating apps, but I don’t think the school should ban social media apps,” said a senior. Concerning social media apps, Frontiera explained, “While social media itself isn’t a bad thing, a lot of the behaviors or actions that occur on that platform just aren’t helpful or conducive to a productive school environment.”

The school also blocks access to certain websites. One junior, who approves of the blocks, said, “I think [banning websites] is reasonable since we should be doing school work at school.” Most students interviewed disagreed with the blocks. “I understand why they ban certain sites with inappropriate content, but I don’t get why they ban some news and sports sites,” one student said. Another replied, “I think they should unblock sites such as Reddit, and Twitch. They both don’t contain inappropriate material but are banned by the school.”

According to the agreement signed by students when they are issued their school iPads, certain apps are prohibited in order to provide “a safe learning environment” at HBA. The agreement also lists “privacy, safety, and security risks” as reasons why some apps are not allowed. In addition, it states that “students found with banned apps on their HBA issued iPads may receive demerits and lose access to the iTunes Store.” HBA maintains a list of prohibited apps here.

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