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North Carolina Middle School Removes All Bathroom Mirrors To Stop Kids From Making TikTok Videos

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teenage girl, bathroom, taking selfies

It is not shocking that cellphones are a serious problem in schools. Since social media has become an integral part of socializing and pop culture, students find it hard not to check their phones.

According to a study on teens and phone use, almost 25% of notifications are received during school hours and that number drops dramatically at night, indicating kids are actively using and checking their phones during classroom time.

But kids aren't just checking their phones, texting and scrolling social media when they should be studying — they are actively filming and creating content for social media platforms. More specifically, TikTok.

Southern Alamance Middle School in North Carolina has removed all mirrors in the bathrooms to prevent students from filming TikToks.

Away from the prying eyes of teachers and administrators, the bathrooms at the North Carolina middle school had become a hangout place for students to film TikTok videos. Of course, as the practice became more popular and bathroom breaks became more frequent, school officials took notice.

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“Students were going to the bathroom for a long period of time making TikTok videos,” a spokesperson of the school, Les Atkins, told WFMY.

Many students were reported to be going to the bathroom seven to eight times a day and spending over 10 minutes in the facilities. In response, the school removed the mirrors, so students no longer had a place to record videos of themselves.

   

   

Although students were not happy with what could only be described as an atypical solution to the social media problem, the school's mirror plan seems to have worked. A letter sent home to parents informing them of the bathroom renovations stated, “We strive to limit distractions so students can focus on learning.”

In addition to removing mirrors, WSOC-TV reported that the school instituted a digital hall pall system which gives administrators a clearer picture of how long students spend on breaks and makes monitoring their movements more efficient.

“Though this is an adjustment, we believe these changes will foster a better learning environment by minimizing disruptions," explained school officials.

Middle school officials do not want to ban cellphones completely.

Since cellphones and screens aren't going anywhere, Southern Alamance Middle School hopes to use the mirror removal as a teachable moment rather than a punitive measure. The goal is to teach students about responsible screen time usage in what the school has dubbed "digital citizenship."

Atkins told WFMY, “Not as many visits to the bathroom, not staying as long and students are held accountable and then when there’s accountability you see a great difference.” 

   

   

He further added, “We’re trying to educate students: we all have cellphones now. We have to learn to use them. We have to learn when to put them down.” 

Maybe this North Carolina school is onto something. Instead of taking phones away teaching kids how to use them properly seems like an important lesson. Other schools are taking a more restrictive route, however.

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A growing trend among schools across the country is banning cellphone use completely.

The knee-jerk reaction from most school administrators seems to be if you eliminate the technology you eliminate the distraction, and on the surface that's certainly true. Even some students would agree.

A recent article in the New York Times asked students what they thought about schools limiting or banning phones altogether, and surprisingly the responses were mixed. As you would expect, many wanted access to their music and the ability to call their parents, but others had a much more stringent approach to tech in the classroom.

Mylea, a student at CNY, explained, "I think that schools should ban cellphones because most problems in school typically circle back to cellphones. Students will take videos or photos of others during school and this gets uploaded to social media. They usually get bullied and aren’t comfortable being posted on social media. Kids are also always on their phones during class. Their grades start to go down and then they fail. All of these problems can be avoided if they just ban phones in school."

Lowell High School in Boston recently implemented a "no phone" policy in its classrooms. At the beginning of each class, the students’ phones are locked up until designated usage times. But like with any restrictions it caused concern for both parents and students.

   

   

Ultimately, school administrators are relying on the data when it comes to making decisions about cellphone usage during the school day. The research has shown on an international scale that kids are distracted by their phones and even their friends' phones. And the most important statistic is that those distractions are greatly reduced when bans are in place.

But is banning the solution or only a bandaid? That's the ultimate question.

At the end of the day, kids need to learn how to navigate life with technological distractions. Perhaps learning how to do that through school is a good idea. It's certainly a life skill many adults would benefit from revisiting as well.

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Lauren Reams is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news.