North Carolina school removes bathroom mirrors to get kids off TikTok, back in class

Since the mirrors were removed earlier this month, the school says there has been a "drastic decrease" in students using the bathroom to make TikTok videos

USA Today, Emilee Coblentz, January 29, 2024

A North Carolina middle school has come up with a way to curb TikTok use among its students: removing bathroom mirrors.

Reports of disruptions because of the popular social media app began to surface in 2021, when school administrators said that TikTok challenges were endangering both students and staff, and in some cases, canceling classes and increasing security.

For the Southern Alamance Middle School in Graham, North Carolina, it was affecting attendance and productivity. Students at the Burlington-area school were "going to the bathroom for long periods of time and making TikTok videos," Les Atkins, a spokesman for the Alamance-Burlington School System, told WFMY-TV.

Some students were going to the bathroom as many as nine times a day, largely to make the videos, according to the school.

Since the mirrors were removed earlier this month, the school has seen a "drastic decrease" in bathroom use, according to a statement obtained by USA TODAY.

A different direction

Southern Alamance chose to go in a different direction compared to other schools across the nation, some of which have removed cell phones entirely. Some parents, students and education advocates have pushed back on that for multiple reasons, the most prominent being safety concerns.

School shootings reached a record high again last year, USA TODAY previously reported. Many parents want the line of communication they have with their kids to remain open, but not just in the case of an emergency, but also to ensure that logistically, they can reach their kids when they need to.

Atkins told Business Insider that safety was a key concern for parents with children at Southern Alamance, and the administration heeded that, but already had a different plan in mind.

Southern Alamance faculty believes that its students need to learn how to be responsible with devices and that removing them takes away that opportunity, according to Atkins. Moreover, technology needs to be in place to ensure that all students are accounted for. The middle school uses a "digital hall pass system" to track its students' whereabouts throughout the day, he said.

"The pass allows students to check in and out when leaving class, so we know where students are at all times for safety and accountability," Atkins said, according to Business Insider.

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How prevalent is social media use among teens?

Nearly 95% of teenagers between 13 and 17 report using social media, with more than a third of them saying they use the platforms "almost constantly," according to a U.S. Surgeon General advisory released last year.

While the report found some benefits of social media among youth, it also found "ample indicators that social media can also have a profound risk of harm" to the mental health and well-being of children.

Though most social platforms allow anyone 13 or older to set up accounts, legislation being pushed in some states would make it more difficult for teens to access social platforms.

Florida is the most recent state to usher in restrictions, USA TODAY previously reported. Its House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill Wednesday that would ban social media for minors under the age of 16.

The proposal still has to pass in the Senate before making it to Gov. Ron DeSantis's desk. If it clears, the law will go into effect in July, but legal trouble may be difficult to avoid as we have seen with similar measures in Ohio and Utah.

The Boy Crisis

TEDx Dr Warren Farrell

TEDx - The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It

One of the foremost speakers and thinkers on gender issues

Dr. Warren Farrell

It's a crisis of education. Worldwide, boys are 50 percent less likely than girls to meet basic proficiency in reading, math, and science.

It's a crisis of mental health. ADHD is on the rise. And as boys become young men, their suicide rates go from equal to girls to six times that of young women.

It's a crisis of fathering. Boys are growing up with less-involved fathers and are more likely to drop out of school, drink, do drugs, become delinquent, and end up in prison.

It's a crisis of purpose. Boys' old sense of purpose-being a warrior, a leader, or a sole breadwinner-are fading. Many bright boys are experiencing a "purpose void," feeling alienated, withdrawn, and addicted to immediate gratification.

So, what is The Boy Crisis? A comprehensive blueprint for what parents, teachers, and policymakers can do to help our sons become happier, healthier men, and fathers and leaders worthy of our respect.

Associated Press

Why boys are in trouble

Boys have been painted as the bad guys in the push to encourage girls to succeed, leaving many young men feeling confused and alienated, wondering what they did wrong

The Associated Press
January 5, 1999

According to psychologist and author William Pollack, 'sports are the one arena in which many of society's traditional strictures about masculinity are often loosened, allowing boys to experience parts of themselves they rarely experience elsewhere.'

When Harvard Medical School psychologist William Pollack administered a test to a group of 150 teenaged boys a few years ago, the results were shocking.

A Quote Worth Remembering

About The truth

"All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed, Second it is violently opposed. Third it is accepted as self-evident."

Arthur Schopenhauer