Administration lifts streaming ban, emphasizes harms of television at school


Photo credit: Anna Brodsky

Upper School Director Gretchen Warner announced Wednesday that Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime were no longer blocked on the Archer network. The websites were banned for about a week.

Upper School Director Gretchen Warner announced Wednesday that the ban on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime has been lifted for computers using the Archer wireless network. One week before, Interim Dean of Students Brianna Coughlan had announced the ban to the upper school, prompting anger from many students.

“The best teacher is your last mistake, and my last mistake was blocking Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu,” Warner said at community connections to cheers from upper schoolers.

Warner said she initially implemented the ban because she was concerned about television viewing during free periods. She saw the ban as the “easy” solution but has since realized that blocking television “isn’t the way to go.”

“I just wanted to get rid of it,” she said. “I don’t want you watching TV at school, to be honest.”

Among Warner’s concerns were a lack of engagement with coursework, bad posture while watching television and decreased cardiovascular health linked to screen time.

“They’re not blocked anymore because I want to trust you,” she said. “If I see you on Netflix, I’m going to say something, but I trust you to make decisions based on the research.”

Head of School Elizabeth English, who was interviewed the day before the ban was lifted, said she believed students have the capacity to be mindful about screen use.

“I said this very clearly to senior admin: let’s take the time to talk to kids about screen addiction and screen time,” she said. “There wasn’t a conversation [before the ban,] and I think that was a misstep. I think we need to have that conversation. Let’s start over.”

Student Body President Grace Wilson said that while she does not necessarily agree with the approach taken to eliminate television streaming, she appreciates the administration’s “deep care” for the student body.

“I know the decision was made with the well-being of the students in mind,” Wilson said. “Although the ban did not ultimately come to fruition, the message to engage more deeply with our classes, peers and teachers was nonetheless made clear, and the student body is listening.”