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    Parents: Does Your ChildÂ’s Public School have Social Media Policies?
    Posted: 2012-09-11 05:00:27

    As students return to classrooms in September for yet another (exciting) academic year, parents should think about how the kidsÂ’ schools manage access to and use of social media.

    As todayÂ’s youth increasingly becomes plugged into the virtual World Wide Web world, schools have begun adapting by using social media to reach out to students and interact with them. Emails, phone calls and regular mail are no longer effective in communicating with students. They have been replaced with Facebook and Twitter.

    The concern with this practice, however, is how to control the use of social media and ensure it does not get abused to the detriment of students and teachers.

    One of the hottest recent topics in the press has been whether teachers can become friends with students (particularly, those that are younger than 18 years of age). There are fears that befriending teachers on Facebook may lead to inappropriate behaviour, which the students would not be able to defend themselves against.

    Certain states, such asNew YorkandMissouri, have created policies and guidelines about using social media in schools. For example, inNew York City, teachers cannot become Facebook friends with students. Nor can they follow students on Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook. But they can communicate over specific website pages approved by the schools.

    On the flip side, schools have recognized the benefits of reaching out to students through social media. This is so because students prefer social media to communicate and retrieve information. Teachers, who use social media to help students learn better, worry that restricting the use of social media may be ineffective in encouraging learning and positive interactions with students. They believe that using social media responsibly is the proper way to go.

    It is a good idea to check your schoolÂ’s social media policy and determine how much online contact is allowed between teachers and students. As there have been cases of harassment and sexual assaults following online contact between teachers and students, parents need to be aware of these dangers and help keep their children out of troubles. For example, there was a case recently of a Mansfield teacher accused of harassing a student in high school. The teacher allegedly started following the student on Twitter and sending her private messages. Online social media makes incidents like this an easy occurrence. As more students have presence online, teachers can more easily reach them. Parents need to be aware of this fact and talk to prepare their children to use social media networks more responsibly.

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