North Carolina Middle School Removes Mirrors to Curb TikTok Distractions

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In a unique move to address the growing issue of TikTok distractions in schools, administrators at Southern Alamance Middle School in Graham, North Carolina, have decided to take a creative approach—they've removed bathroom mirrors. The decision came after reports of students spending excessive time in front of mirrors, creating TikTok videos during classroom hours, disrupting attendance and productivity.

According to Les Atkins, spokesperson for Alamance-Burlington schools, some students were asking to use the bathroom five or more times a day, with each excursion lasting upwards of five minutes, often used for making TikTok videos. This behavior prompted school administrators to take action and remove the mirrors about three weeks ago.

Can removing mirrors really curb TikTok use?

So far, the results have been promising. Since the mirrors were removed, the school has observed a "drastic decrease" in bathroom visits made by students requesting excused absences for video creation. Atkins told Education Week that the school's goal is to minimize distractions so students can focus on learning.

However, experts caution that such reactionary measures may only yield temporary success. Andrea Clyne, the president of the National Association of School Psychologists, noted that adolescents, who are tech-savvy digital natives, tend to stay ahead of administrators in finding ways to access social media surreptitiously.

Social media is a growing concern in schools

TikTok challenges and social media (in general) have been a growing concern in schools nationwide—causing disruptions and even leading to class cancellations. In Southern Alamance Middle School's case, it was affecting both attendance and productivity.

While some schools have chosen to ban cell phones entirely, Southern Alamance decided on a different approach, focusing on teaching students responsible device usage. The school uses a "digital hall pass system" to track students' whereabouts throughout the day and believes that technology should be integrated into education to ensure students are accounted for.

The issue of social media distractions among youth is a widespread concern, with a U.S. Surgeon General advisory finding that while there are some benefits, there is also a significant risk to children's mental health and well-being. Several states have proposed legislation restricting teenagers' access to social media. Florida is the latest, where a bipartisan bill aims to ban social media for minors under 16.

While these measures are being debated and implemented, schools like Southern Alamance Middle School aren't waiting for lawmakers or Big Tech to solve the issue. This school is taking creative steps to address the challenges of modern education and minimize distractions, hoping to strike a balance between technology use and classroom focus.

Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.

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