Finding the Distinction between Students and “Friends”

Facebook is everywhere these days. My mother has one. My grandmother has one, and many of my high school teachers have one too. Now, more than ever, the internet is redefining what it means to exist socially in the world, both personally and professionally. Cindy Long’s article, “Why Can’t We Be Friends? Social Media Boundaries Between Teachers and Students” hits on this sensitive topic, addressing the rights of both the teachers and the students when it comes to online privacy.

In the article, Long paraphrases William Jackson saying, “His bottom line: If you feel comfortable saying it to parents and in public then you should be able to say it in a blog or on facebook” (Long 2011). Jackson suggests that it is appropriate to say something about a student online, as long as it isn’t private. I disagree. I feel that teachers have no reason to talk about students on their personal facebook pages or blogs (a classroom facebook page is a different story.) Private or public knowledge, a personal facebook page should be used for just that: a teacher’s personal life. Children and the school system should be left out of it.

I liked the idea presented by Gina Moretto Frutig,who “maintains a separate Facebook page just for students and their parents” (Long 2011). The best conclusion I can come to is for teachers to set specific boundaries and stick to them. It seems wise to either have two facebook pages, one professional and one personal, or to make the personal facebook page as private as possible, denying students access.

The article does suggest that social media can benefit students in the classroom. I wholeheartedly agree. Students today are constantly connected to each other socially, so it only makes sense that they should also be able to connect educationally. What about a classroom facebook page for questions about assignments? For facilitating discussion? It seems that as long as these outlets are monitored regularly by the teacher, students could learn just as much about Thomas Jefferson as they could about Billy’s weekend escapades from facebook or other media outlets.

Long, C. (2011, April 8). Why can’t we be friends? social media boundaries between teachers and students. Retrieved from http://neatoday.org/2011/04/28/why-cant-we-be-friends-social-media-boundaries-between-teachers-and-students/

 

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