Is Your Kid Interacting with the Teacher Online?
In general, most teachers use social media appropriately. Unfortunately there are teachers that use their positions to gain control over their students. With teachers and students having access to one another via social media, it becomes easy for teachers to form intimate relationships with their students that aren’t appropriate. Although some schools don’t currently have policies about teachers and students being “friends” on social media, many educational institutions have started imposing strict guidelines which totally ban any private conversations between the students and teachers on sites like Facebook. Many schools have now issued a warning notice to the staff that they will face disciplinary action if they are caught posting inappropriate photos of themselves or use of alcohol in case their students may be watching.
Because teachers have lives outside of school, they often post personal pictures in their social media profiles. They may have adult subject matter or things on their pages that their students shouldn’t be privy to. By becoming a friend or follower on social media, the lines between student and teacher can easily become blurred. Crossing these boundaries has led to many teachers being arrested and punished for charges including abuse and assault. Some teachers tend to give out too much information about themselves to the students which can undermine their authority or let the student think that they are “friends”.
A recent situation in Las Vegas is a perfect example of why teachers and students shouldn’t be interacting on social media together. This isn’t the first case of teacher student boundaries being crossed, I’m sure it won’t be the last either. Two teachers were recently fired for communication that they had with their students online. It can start out innocently enough by talking about an assignment or asking a simple question. But as we have seen by past news stories, even a legitimate social encounter can easily cross the line. Unfortunately not all adults are equipped with the common sense to know that they shouldn’t be talking inappropriately with kids online.
All students need to learn and interact professionally when using online technology. Any interaction with their teachers should be monitored closely by their parents. If you suspect that your child is carrying on a relationship with their teacher, you have to talk to them immediately. Catching this behavior before it becomes inappropriate is key. Monitoring their devices is one way of doing so. Since most kids have a cell phone or tablet, that would be the way they may be interacting. Installing a mobile tracking app and monitoring software will help you keep tabs on who they are interacting with online.
Online technology is a powerful tool in learning but it comes with great responsibility. Teaching your kids on how to interact with adults like their teachers online is important. Also, keeping an open line of communication with them on your end will help them feel comfortable coming to you if they feel someone (like a teacher) is acting inappropriately towards them.
Frank Wimer works in IT for a school district. When not working or spending time with his family he is a contributor at Mobile Spy, a mobile tracking app that helps parents know what their kids are doing online.