Blog Why I chose to bypass my high school’s firewall — and how you can too
Alaa Basatneh November 28, 2018

Why I chose to bypass my high school’s firewall — and how you can too


Throughout my high school career, I ditched the odd class to go to the mall, pulled pranks on friends, and had my fair share of after-school detentions when caught. In truth, I guess I was a typical kid. But what wasn’t typical was the fact that I never showed up to the cafeteria for lunch. Instead, I went to the computer lab, used Hotspot Shield VPN to bypass my school’s firewall, and spent my time connecting with friends and family overseas.

I did this via chat rooms like Yahoo and MSN messenger. I know, many of you will be scratching your head trying to figure out what those apps are. Just think of them as the grandfather of Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

Like many high schools today, our school WiFi network blocked access to things like messenger apps, Facebook, and games. High schools today also block movies, streaming sites like Netflix, YouTube, music apps such as Spotfiy, and other content when on campus. The restrictions are there to ensure students remain distraction-free during class.

But what about during recess or lunch?

I wanted to play games and chat with friends online. It was the equivalent of chatting with friends over Facebook or Snapchat nowadays. But I couldn’t access the apps, or any forums, chat rooms, or even the Arabic keyboard online. I needed a way to bypass my school’s firewall.

I wasn’t using the firewall to access illegal content. I wasn’t using it to slack off in class. I was mostly trying to contact my friends in the Middle East. The time difference there was terrible; by the time I got home, my friends were asleep. The only option was to connect during lunch—around 8 P.M. their time.

By bypassing the school’s firewall, I was able to keep up with friends overseas. I had the ability to practice my Arabic language skills by chatting and typing with cousins and family members on Facebook. And most recently, I celebrated 11 years of friendship with a person in Turkey who I met online during my freshman year.

So how did I bypass my school’s WiFi restrictions?

Simple: I used Hotspot Shield VPN.

The free app encrypts your network connection, effectively making you ‘invisible’ online. This means that the WiFi network you’re connected to can’t see what sites or apps you’re visiting. And if it can’t see you’re connecting to a messenger app, for example, it can’t block you.

One click of a button and all WiFi restrictions are bypassed and your content will be unblocked. To get the free app on your mobile or desktop device, go to the app store and search for “Hotspot Shield VPN.”

It’s important for schools to have set mandates for students using the available resources. But it is also important for students to have the freedom to choose what they do with their free time during breaks and lunch. I chose to use my time being productive and connecting with friends and family overseas, and that paid off for me years later. Using Hotspot Shield VPN to bypass your school’s firewall is a choice that you can make too.

And if you only want to use Hotspot Shield to unblock your favorite games during lunch, that’s OK too. We won’t judge. Just make sure you still pay attention in class.

Alaa Basatneh
About Alaa Basatneh

Alaa Basatneh is a human rights advocate and writer focusing on demolishing xenophobia. She is the protagonist of the award-winning documentary #ChicagoGirl.

View all posts by Alaa Basatneh
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