Should students be forced to keep their cameras on during class? (CounterPoint)

Courtesy+of+Samwell+Nachimson

Courtesy of Samwell Nachimson

Olivia Platt, Staff Writer

As the COVID-19 pandemic has controlled all aspects of our lives, including our educational system, the majority of schools throughout the United States have moved to a hybrid or fully remote learning model.  Although many remote learning models have been carefully developed to maximize student success, there are still many controversies surrounding them.  All considered, forcing students to keep their cameras on is stress-inducing, intrusive, and can negatively impact the learning process.  

First of all, in a remote learning model, students’ home environments become synonymous with their school environment.  This can cause a lot of anxiety for students who do not feel comfortable showcasing their surroundings to their peers and teachers.  

“My bedroom, where my laptop is, is my private space.  In an era in which the world feels uncontrollable, I would like to be able to control who can and cannot see my personal space.  When my camera is on, I do not know for sure who can see me or the space around me.  I know that I am not alone in saying that it makes me uncomfortable,” said junior Natalie Parker.

In addition to feelings of discomfort, an unfortunate reality is that many students cope with unstable home environments.  They may often worry about what is going on in the background of their cameras instead of focusing on their schoolwork.  This can negatively impact their ability to receive instruction and their academic performance overall.  

For many students, an in-person school environment is a safe haven.  That sense of security is taken away when they must complete their academics at home.  Having a camera on constantly can feel invasive and contribute to a lost sense of security.  

Aside from creating stress among students, having cameras on, especially in the grid view setting, can be a major distraction.  Students begin to scrutinize their own images and focus more on their own appearance than the task at hand.  Specifically for those who struggle with anxiety, self-consciousness can play a major role in their attentiveness to a lesson.  Many teachers also may project a gridview of students onto their SMARTBoard at certain times during a lesson.  An anxious student may see themself on the SMARTBoard and consequently focus on fixing their hair or clothing rather than the lesson itself, which would not happen in a regular classroom setting.

A final point to take into consideration is the fact that pictures and videos of students may be taken without consent when cameras on.  Although Schreiber has prohibited this, in reality, it is nearly impossible for the administration to regulate when photos and videos are taken, especially if the content is not posted publicly on the internet.  This can lead to cyberbullying and may have a profound impact on a student’s life.

Overall, cameras are a tool that may make teachers feel more in control of their students, but the negative impacts on the students are far greater.  The transition to remote learning has been a huge adjustment, and having cameras on has become a source of stress for many students.  In order to ensure that students are reaching their full potential at this time, we must minimize stress levels, and prioritize the construction of a safe virtual learning environment for everyone.