Toronto

Savvy students find ways around TDSB's Wi-Fi block on Snapchat, Instagram, Netflix

Students at Canada's largest school board say they will have no problem getting access to Netflix, Snapchat and Instagram at school — despite a temporary Wi-Fi ban on the three platforms — by using alternate routes to internet access.

Students can use their own data plan, or tap into a VPN to get internet access

The Toronto District School Board is blocking student Wi-Fi access to Snapchat, Netflix and Instagram on school property. The block is temporary while the school board upgrades its Wi-Fi system. (CBC)

Students at Canada's largest school board say they will have no problem getting access to Netflix, Snapchat and Instagram at school — despite a temporary Wi-Fi ban on the three platforms — by using alternate routes to internet access.

The Toronto District School Board announced the ban Tuesday and it is in effect until June 30. 

CBC Toronto spoke to students about the ban outside a Toronto high school. Some were annoyed but few were worried, mainly because they said it's easy enough to find other ways to get online. 

"You can just use a VPN," said one student. Short for virtual private network, some VPNs allow Internet access through a private network. Many VPNs are available as apps. 

The TDSB said it made the move because platforms like Netflix and Snapchat put a heavy burden on the board's aging Wi-Fi system, which is used for tasks such as tracking attendance and registering report cards.

Once the upgrade is complete, students will again be able to access the apps through the school's Wi-Fi network. 

Could Wi-Fi block be a good thing?

While the TDSB ban is in place, students can still access the platforms using their own data plans, a move that could boost their monthly bill. For many teenagers, this would mean parents would have to pick up the extra cost.

"We won't be able to use our phones much [because of the ban]," one student told CBC Toronto. "I would probably use data, which will cost a little more but maybe I'll be off my phone more. It might be a good thing during class so I can focus more."

One student said blocking access to Snapchat, Netflix and Instagram will limit his ability to connect with friends.

"I'm a little annoyed at the school system about it," he said. "I'm usually on my phone a lot and I don't have a data plan so this impacts me a lot. I use social media a lot to contact people."

Some students turned to Twitter — one popular social media platform not blocked by the ban — to ridicule the TDSB's Wi-Fi restriction.