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Harrisburg University plans social media blackout

Jenna Johnson

All across the country, professors of all types are launching science-fair-like experiments into what would happen if students were deprived of their social media fix. Usually it's a voluntary experiment.

But starting Monday, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania will block all social networking sites on the campus network, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and AOL Instant Messenger, Inside Higher Ed reported.

Apparently, only a handful of people on campus knew about the plan -- until Inside Higher Ed reported on it Thursday. Charles Palmer, an associate professor at the college, told the Web site that students won't be the only ones irked by the plan.

"The students will be upset, but I believe a number of faculty will be upset, too, even knowing what type of experiment we're running," Palmer says. "I know we're going to get people saying, 'I know that you're going to excuse this thing I'm doing, right? Like the grant I'm working on, that's at a crucial moment?' "

Some similar past experiments could give Harrisburg administrators an idea of what to expect. At the University of Maryland this spring, about 200 students gave up all technology-related socializing and a few reported withdrawal symptoms.

In May, a group of Washington Post reporters did the same thing and recorded their experiences on the Story Lab blog.

To read the full Inside Higher Ed story, click here.

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  |  September 9, 2010; 2:39 PM ET
Categories:  Networking  | Tags: Facebook, Harrisburg, Twitter  
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Comments

This is probably a good thing as long as no lasting harm comes from it. It's certainly something to perhaps get the students back into their books and/or thinking for themselves. I don't use the social media sites, but if I were cut off from the net, I'd probably be running to town to the store to try to find a copy of the NY Times and perhaps the local paper pretty quickly.

But I've been reading the paper since I was a young child, before the internet it was the first thing I did, run out to the curb in the morning and read it with a cup of coffee

Posted by: Perry3 | September 9, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I think that this is a good thing for those people who are addicted, but for those who depend on such sites in moderation, it will just cause trouble. I am one of the latter. I have a Facebook account which I check a couple of times a day (or if someone messages me).

I depend on it for staying in contact with my friends who have since left the province for university. I also use it to contact people at my own university to arrange review sessions and study groups. Without it, such things would be more difficult for me. Plus, some of my friends post interesting articles about the news and sometimes it is a good story I missed.

Posted by: Wander099 | September 14, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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