New technologies, especially instant messaging, are offered to students in middle and high school. WhatsApp, Snapchat and also Teams are used to create classroom groups. The initiators of these conversations are often the students themselves and, less frequently, the teachers. The main purpose of these discussion channels is to facilitate discussions about courses or assignments. However, sometimes this can lead to overflows.
The flood of messages sent results in dozens of notifications throughout the day and evening. Even on weekends. For this reason, students are constantly disturbed. “Teachers sometimes send us messages while they are in class. Although this is rare, it is in our interest to turn off our phones at the risk of them being confiscated.», explains 13-year-old Élisa, who is studying in the 4th year at a university in Montigny-le-Bretonneux (Yvelines). Different groups have been created in Teams starting from the 6th grade so that students can share their lessons or receive instructions from their teachers. This year, Élisa is still having Teams discussions with her classmates and music teachers who share songs with them.
But students also disturb each other. Messages constantly appear in groups among friends. To talk about homework, about the start time of classes the next day, about teachers not showing up, and at the same time to get some fresh air. “Last year there were so many notifications I had to mute the conversation» shares Elisa. A reflex also adopted by 13-year-old Emma, who is studying in the 4th year at a university in Pertuis (Vaucluse). “In a group consisting entirely of 4th graders, there can be hundreds of messages every night. Faces, useless thoughts… After silencing them, I decided to let them go.», the young girl confirms. Like Élisa, Emma has been participating in class groups on the social network since the age of 11; In theory, access to social networks is only possible for adolescents over 13 years old. “It was a teacher who suggested that her 6th grade students create a discussion environment to help each other with their homework.», says Emma’s mother Caroline.
Since the baccalaureate reform, it is very practical, especially in high school, as students are separated according to their specialization. So we form groups
Claire Guéville, Snes-FSU national secretary for high school and professor of history and geography
Anaïs’ mother, Noémie, is 14 years old and in third grade in Nancy.forced to sign him up on Snapchat so he could access the student body and avoid being ostracized“. The teenager participates in many chats, including the chat for German classes with students from different classes at the university. If Noémie had not noticed any excesses, she also had to register on the social network to follow her daughter’s posts.
A difficult disconnect
In addition to the instant messaging services that everyone knows, institutions also give more priority to the tools of the National Education that allow teachers and students to chat. “Some teachers only use WhatsApp or Teams, some only use ENT (digital workspace ) from school or juggling the two», states Claire Guéville, Snes-FSU national secretary in charge of the high school and professor of history and geography. “Since the baccalaureate reform, it is very practical, especially in high school, as students are separated according to their specialization. So we form groups», adds the teacher.
But everyone has the right to disconnect. “I once received a message on a Sunday evening saying, “I didn’t understand my note.” Bad habits have been acquired since incarceration. It becomes non-stop work and is toxic to students and teachers. I explained to my students that I do not respond to messages after 19.00 in the evening and on weekends.», states Claire Guéville. According to Grégoire Ensel, president of the parents’ federation (FCPE), it is very important that these rules are imposed on everyone. “We already need to prepare a regulation regarding meetings with teachers using these digital tools. Unless it is an emergency, posting at any time of the day is intrusive for families and students. We should also raise awareness among students about its use. social networks “, says.
Because even though Élisa and Emma claimed that they only saw kind messages on these channels, other students were exposed to waves of hatred through these virtual exchanges. This is the case of 12-year-old Anna*, who was the target of cyberstalking by her classmates. “We learned that he was insulted in WhatsApp and Snapchat groups and that he wished for the death of his comrades. Therefore Anna no longer has access to these applications», he says, his father moved to Thomas. Odessa’s son also became the target of insults. “It was three years ago. I accepted these conversations because I didn’t want my son to be alone. But I noticed that 6th grade girls were the target of their comments. It wasn’t always bad, but it could easily lead to extremes. Then he had messages until late in the evening. So I have it. I deleted the phone », trusts this mother who is a medical secretary. Odessa insists: “This only happens to other people. My son is studying at a famous public university in the 5th arrondissement of Paris and yet.»
It’s a problem that teachers know very well. “This is the problem of extracurricular groups that go unmonitored and can therefore lead to excesses. We have no control over these discussions. We may recommend removal of the change, but we are not legal representatives of the students», explains Jean-Rémi Girard, president of the national association of high schools and colleges (Snalc).
*Surname has been changed.