An interesting social experiment: restrict social media access at a college for a week

Social media is ever-present on college campuses. It appears that some institutions are thinking about ways to encourage thinking about using social media – by restricting it:

Professors have experimented with assigning technology fasts for their students—by discouraging gadget use for five days, for example, or rewarding extra credit for a semester without Facebook.

Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is going one step further with a “social-media blackout.” Starting Monday, the Pennsylvania institution will block Facebook, Twitter, AOL Instant Messenger, and MySpace on the campus network for a week. Faculty and staff members will be affected as well as students.

“Telling students to imagine a time before Facebook is like telling them to imagine living in a world with dinosaurs,” said Eric D. Darr, Harrisburg’s executive vice president and provost. “It’s not real. What we’re doing is trying to make it real.”

Ah, equating life with no social media with the age of dinosaurs – this is quite funny (though probably accurate).

When I first saw this headline, I thought this school might be doing this to help students to use the time they might spend on social media in other ways. To discover the world outside of Facebook. Alas, the school has other aims:

Mr. Darr said his hope is that people…would take the week to reflect on outside-the-box ways to use social media—such as for entrepreneurship or political advocacy.

So the goal in restricting social media use is to help people think about social media use? And I was hoping for a social experiment where students might discover other virtuous things to do with their time…

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