January 26, 2022

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Are You a Fan of ‘School Accounts’ on Social Media?

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Have you heard of “sleep accounts” on social media that catch students dozing off in class? Why do you think they are popular right now?

Have you ever appeared on a sleep account or other account related to school culture? If so, what were you doing in the photo? How did you feel about it? Have you ever posted a photo of another student doing something unintentionally funny?

In “The Latest High School Prank? It’s a Snooze,” Katherine Rosman writes about the rise of “school accounts,” which catch students dozing off in class, slouching, parking their cars poorly or otherwise being at less than their best for social media fodder. The article begins:

Zach Lewis swears he was just resting his eyes.

But when a fellow student at Stowe Middle High School in Vermont surreptitiously snapped his picture during English class and shared it with the school’s “sleep account,” it was hard to dispute the evidence. There he was, book open, lids shut.

After Zach was tagged in the photo on Instagram, he sent a message to the people who manage the account to remove it. They quickly deleted it. “I wasn’t worried about a teacher seeing it,” Zach, 16, said. “It’s just embarrassing to have it up there.”

But that didn’t stop him from secretly photographing another student who fell asleep in English, then submitting it to the account for publication.

“Everyone,” Zach said, “has been trying to catch each other.”

Part prank, part extracurricular documentary project, sleep accounts are among several types of so-called school accounts that have proliferated on Instagram in recent months, as students have returned to classrooms following two disrupted academic years. After many months of pandemic-mandated remote instruction, teenagers have come to regard such banalities as their classmates eating, slouching and parking badly as fodder for amusement — and, of course, content.

The article — which also quoted Ash Saple, a 17-year-old junior at Hamilton Southeastern High School, in Fishers, Ind. — offers some explanation for the popularity of school accounts, and the intention behind them:

The students behind these accounts say they are mostly a harmless trend, predicated on the novelty of being in the same physical space as their classmates again. There is also a poignancy to the accounts; as many students head out for winter break amid a national surge in Covid-19 cases, there is some uncertainty about whether in-person instruction will resume in January.

“On your computer in your bedroom, you can’t see people napping and you don’t see how badly people park their cars because no one left their house,” Ash said. “There are so many things that you forget about that are just normal things that we’re now able to notice.”

The account that posted the photo of Zach appearing to doze off in class in Vermont is run by two sophomores, Teague Barnett and Andrew Weber, both 15. They had seen on Instagram and TikTok that other students at schools had started slouching and “bathroom feet” accounts.

They decided to create one themselves: a sleep account in which anyone who wished to have their photo removed would be respected. “There is a high school cliché that everyone is falling asleep in class and this account is here to poke fun at that,” Andrew said.

The boys see it as a lark. “A lot of the things that are fun to high schoolers are risqué and things parents wouldn’t be OK with,” Teague said. “But this is a good way to escape and play a little prank and no one is getting hurt.”

Parents seem to agree. “It’s great to have the kids back in school and able to poke fun and have a good chuckle,” said Andrew’s father, Chris Weber. He sees it as a reflection of a generation that has grown up with smartphones and social media, observing and being observed.

“They document their entire lives,” Mr. Weber said. “And they’re very comfortable being seen by their peers at almost any moment.”

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

  • Are school accounts popular at your school? Why do you think they have suddenly become so ubiquitous?

  • Are you a fan of these kinds of accounts? Do they “keep everyone on edge” as one student said, or are they all in good fun? What is one quote from the article that best captures your thoughts about school accounts?

  • Do you think there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed when it comes to capturing and sharing images of things that students do? If so, what should be off limits? Why?

  • If a person who had no affiliation with your school saw social media accounts devoted to showing everyday life there, what impressions would they get? What doesn’t get reflected? What gets overemphasized?

  • You read about a school account that captures “good parkers, bad parkers, cute outfits, shoes, fast walkers, slow walkers and red-haired students.” What is missing from this list that might be of interest to students at your school?

  • Could school accounts build a greater sense of belonging or increase school spirit? Why or why not?

Want more writing prompts? You can find all of our questions in our Student Opinion column. Teachers, check out this guide to learn how you can incorporate them into your classroom.

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

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