Facebook – what’s appropriate for teachers & students?

PLEASE NOTE:  Children under 13 are not permitted on Facebook.  This discussion is referencing only students who are 13 and older.

As the start of school rapidly approaches, the question of how new social media tools should be used by students and teachers rears its head again.  Is it appropriate for students and teachers to be Facebook friends?  What about former students – do they still need to be kept at arms’ length from the teachers who helped guide and direct them to adulthood?

This is a tough question with many varied implications.  The state of Missouri recently passed a law designed to protect students from teachers who have sexually assaulted students.  It appears to include a provision that prevents teachers from being Facebook friends with current or former students (although there is now apparently some question from the bill’s sponsor on exactly what the provision means).

There are a myriad of different views on the subject.  Here is a discussion on Facebook itself on the National Middle School Association page.  The Houston Chronicle published an extensive discussion of the topic here.  And while some say teachers should absolutely not friend their students, others believe digital interaction may be a way to weed out predators before anything more serious happens.  Some also argue that forbidding teachers from friending students may actually be a violation of the teachers’ First Amendment rights, as well as preventing valuable interaction with adults.

What do you think?

One Response to “Facebook – what’s appropriate for teachers & students?”

  1. Larry Deel Says:

    I have some mixed feelings about this issue. On one hand, teachers reaching out to students on facebook may help bridge the generation gap and create a better relationship and improve understanding. I see it as the teacher stepping into the student’s preferred domain. On the other hand, many bad things have happened with these kinds of relationships. If it were possible to force that “friendship” to exist only within the student and teacher’s open wall where others can monitor communication, perhaps nothing sinister would happen.

    I do think it is important for teachers to embrace the technology used by students.

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