I have strong reservations about this subject. I may be old-school, but I do not think Facebook is the appropriate place for teachers to befriend students. Facebook is a global networking site with about anything on it you could possibly imagine. It's truly an international phenomenon!
When I was employed as a teacher, I did not have a Facebook account. My school division and principal stressed the importance of staying away from Facebook and insisted that to have an account exhibited a lack of professionalism as a teacher. We were absolutely forbidden to befriend students if we did own an account. Obviously, the school officials could not stop us from joining Facebook, but they could force the issue if an occasion arose where a student admitted being friends with a teacher.
In reading the blog article, I would argue that there are other means of communicating with students in lieu of Facebook. Schools can set up their own web sites and provide places for interaction among teachers, parents, and students. Certainly school closings due to weather can be announced on school web sites which is the case in my district.
I don't want the responsibility of being the friend of a student. As teachers, there is an appropriate boundary to maintain. I think there are teachers who want to help students and walk a fine line in becoming counselors. Without proper training in guidance counseling, I think teachers can do more harm than good.
Even now that I have a Facebook account, I spend very little time on that site. My days are filled with too many other social opportunities. In addition, any student I taught who has now graduated and wants to befriend me on Facebook, I decline. I still prefer maintaining a distance between teacher and former student. In my eyes, they will always be students and not close friends.
What a great topic to address!! I am still struggling with fully accepting Facebook in my life because of how freely you can share info and get info on others. I like sharing with my friends and family, but not with people outside my circle.
To address Kingston's inital question relating to the article...I am on the same page as Lynne. I feel that teachers need to keep certain boundaries between themselves and students. To take it a step further, I won't even accept my friends' kids as my friends on Facebook. I just adore my good friend's teenage daughters, but I won't friend them on Facebook mainly because I fear kids will post something "risky" or inappropriate and I don't want to come across anything that will make me feel awkward. Also, my 11 year old daughter's friends from girl scouts all have Facebook accounts and invite me to be their friend and I don't accept.
I know Facebook has set the age at 13 to create an account, but kids younger than that are creating accounts.
It is almost like you need 2 Facebook accounts. One for your personal stuff and the other for professional/educational connections.
You mentioned in your response that kids younger than the required age of 13 are using Facebook. I just read some incredible statistics about youth and Facebook.
According to a recent Consumer Reports study, among the 20 million Americans under the age of 18 who use Facebook, 7.5 million are younger than 13. More than 5 million are 10 and younger. Facebook requires users to be at least age 13, but it does not verify ages.
So Web Alert--teachers and parents really need to be monitoring and supervising children's use of the Internet!
I believe preteens should not be on social networking sites. I still have strong reservations about teachers connecting with students on any social networking sites. My school district advocates NO communication between teachers and students on Facebook or any other social site.
Crystal, wow, 7.5 million Facebook users under the age of 13! That is good information to have so we can better protect our young users on the Internet. Now the parents of my daughter’s friends who had accounts since about the age of 10, I have known for the past 5 years and I know that they are all very involved parents who are protective of their children. I just don’t think they realize or think of the risks with their daugthers using Facebook.
With my husband in the military, he is always briefed on the dangers of leaving a digital footprint. Just last week, he learned how if you take a picture from your mobile phone and upload it to Facebook someone can tell the exact location of where you were when you took that picture. So, if you take a picture from home someone can have access to your home address. Scary!! Before last week, we were both unaware of this technology and I was guilty of taking pictures with my phone and uploading to Facebook. My husband made sure he went into my phone settings and my Facebook settings and disabled the “location” feature. I did a search on the Internet to learn more and found this article titled: Smartphone picture uploads can reveal the location of your children's home, school, and play areas. I hope that every parent and student disables the location feature on their phone and Facebook.
I loved how Crystal mentioned that she has a training session for the parents to teach them about the security features in Facebook. My sister, who works for the government, received training on the dangers of social networking sites and sent me a PowerPoint presentation for me to review. I am not able to share publically, but was wondering…
If any of you had a PowerPoint or any training materials (agenda, handouts, articles) that you share with your parents to spread awareness? If you do have materials, that would be great if you could upload them to the Community and place a link to the resources in this discussion area.
Thanks for bringing this up Kingston. Facebook has been a hot topic in the news lately and even a hotter topic at my school. Recently, we have had some issues at school that stem from Facebook. In an effort to educate both parents and students, the PTCO booked Josh Gunderson. Using humor and real-world examples, Josh encouraged our students to be kind to one another and review their Facebook profile, privacy settings, and friends often.
As a follow up to this event, I would like to invite parents to an open lab time with their child to review their privacy settings and check out their child's digital footprint.
Personally, I keep Facebook very private. I don't friend people who I don't currently talk to. I don't friend current colleagues. I don't friend students or former students. If I was back in the classroom, I might consider making a Facebook Fan page for my class or use class.io where students can select where they want to get information regarding class assignments and upcoming events.
What are your guidelines for using Facebook?
For me it boils down to personal v. professional.
My personal page is exactly that - personal. There is nothing there for a student to see and no reason for him to contribute. It is a page that I use minimally and have privacy settings controlling all that is published.
A professional page, however - the idea has merit to me. A page in which only classroom or educational business (book recommendations, research ideas/materials etc) is included. I'm a huge proponent of engaging today's 21st Century Kid on his own playing field. If FB is that field then I say why not?
Yes - there are other online ways for a student to interact with a teacher. No question about that. However, we can safely say that a student will be on FB - I can say with the same degree of certainty that a student, even one with a question, will seek out that alternative site and make use of it.
From personal experience, it's not the best idea to add students on facebook. The personal and professional lines get blurred, and I found myself concerned that someone would post a message on my wall that students would read. In the end, I had to delete all student contacts from my facebook account.
I'm curious about your experience, would you share a bit more? Were you concerned about your personal friends posting on your professional site?
I think that if I had two separate ID's such as Theresa Lynn and another Mrs Gibbon's HS page, I'd be able to also have two separate groups of friends.
I do agree that the line between personal and professional can get blurred pretty easily if one isn't extremely diligent about keeping students friended to the HS acct and not friended to the personal acct.
I'd love to hear from someone who is able to try this out with kids. Has anyone had any success with a strictly professional classroom account?
Yes, I was concerned about students reading what was posted on my webpage. I felt I had to police my wall more often than I would have desired.
The students added me as friends and then tagged me in their photographs. I had to untag and remove myself from the list because I felt that I was becoming more of a friend and less of a teacher.
Some things are meant to be personal, and as their teacher there is information I shouldn't view. It would affect how I perceive the students and relate with them.
I have tried adding a second account strictly for teaching. I had to enter my first name as "Mis" because it wouldn't let me enter "Miss" or "Ms" as a first name. I haven't done much else with the profile yet, so I can't speak from experience. However, the possibilities are endless: you could add a homework help group where students could post questions and comments, upload class photographs, and interact with their classmates. A book review group could be included, where students could share reflections on favorite books they have read (for extra credit or some addiitonal credit).
Did anyone watch the Today Show feature Should teachers be Facebook friends with students? Should social media be used as educational tools or are they too dangerous? This segment aired Friday morning, August 12, on the Today Show on NBC. The editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine stated that "59% of all our readers say they're facebook friends with their teachers." I was surprised that the percentage is this high.
At the time I looked at the online video, 5,881 people had voted in the poll and the results were as follows:
Of those voting in the poll, 53 had written comments which mostly supported the idea that teachers and students should not be friends on Facebook.
What do you think of this video segment and these statistics?
Some of my students are my friend on FB. We chat from time to time but not necessarily on a daily basis. I hope it allows for transparency in the classroom. They have an opportunity to see that I am huiman, that I have a life, a family, and they connect with me anytime they need to. I do not post anything outlandish on my page. At this point I have not had anyone else post anything that is outlandish. My status is generally generic. I do not post anything on my page that I would not say or do publically. I think there are advantages, as well, as disadvantages to this. I think it is important to keep in mind how we as eductors are seen as role models, as well as, our community status!
My students usually send me a request in FB, but I never accepted them since that is my personal FB. I tell them that when I open a "teacher account" I will accept them. But, I also think FB is a perfect way to integrate technology in our classrooms. It will help students become independent.
Facebook debuted while I was in college, and at that time, it was for college students only - you had to use a college email address to even sign up. Naturally as this phenomenon was sweeping colleges across the country, I signed up. I have had a facebook ever since. My first year teaching (2005-2006), facebook was made available to high school students, and as the years have progressed we get to the facebook where anyone and everyone can now have a page.
I still have my facebook profile and I am 'friends' with lots of students. However, I have created a 'limited profile' list and every student that 'friends' me is added to this list. It is the most basic view of my profile that is possible. They can see none of my pictures that I don't allow, and very little of my personal information. Facebook has lots of privacy settings you can use and while I have experienced some trepidation having students as friends, I have never encountered a problem up to this point.
I never go looking to add students as friends, but if they find me I usually don't have a problem accepting their friend requests and adding them to the 'limited profile' list. I don't post on their walls (and they cannot post on mine due to my settings), and I rarely have ever chatted with any of them on facebook. A lot of my experiences with it have been good ones, as I have been able to keep track of students who are in college and beyond, and are doing so well now!
I don't necessarily feel as though I should not be allowed to have a facebook account and keep up with friends and family just because of my profession. I do recognize the possibility for many issues to arise if students and teachers are facebook friends, but so far I have yet to encounter any problems. I don't feel like having students as my friends on facebook means we are actually friends, and my students have never semed to think that meant we were friends either; I have not had any issues with students losing sight of the student/teacher boundary in the classroom just because we are both on facebook.
As a side note, at our school certain posts on websites like facebook or myspace can be cause for removing you from a team, club, etc... When the students know that their teachers and especially coaches are on facebook, it often deters them from posting anything that would hinder their eligibility at participating in sports, etc...therefore keeping a lot of 'questionable material' from being posted on the internet at all.Not that they aren't doing anything questionable, but at least it stays off the web!
Thank you so much for sharing this information! Being relatively facebook illiterate, I did not know I could add friends to a "limited profile" list. I have found that most students who want to be a facebook friend really just want an inside glimpse into my life so I try to share a lot in class using personal experience.
As a drama director I have used facebook and created a group and event that is limited to just the students in the play so that too may be a middle ground.
One of the drawbacks to having students as friends on facebook, is that their stuff just takes up time and space in my day. I'd rather go to facebook and catch up with my closer friends and family and not necessarily my students. Though that may sound impersonal, I am a very personal teacher...in the classroom. My students know that they can reach me through school email if they need to and I don't feel the need to connect to them outside of that and seeing them at school events.
For me, I do not feel it appropriate to ues social networking to interact with my students. I allow my students to contact me on my school e-mail account wich is available through the District/School web sites, but I do not friend them on facebook, and I do not ask them to friend me on it either. Even when I am personal friends with other adults who have students in my class, I do not friend the students. I will communicate through the parents.
Our District actually has a policy against (very broad and more of a warning than a rule) interacting with students via social media, texting and private e-mail accounts. Everything may be on the up and up, but all it takes is one parent to want to make it an issue, and then trouble begins.
Our district sounds very much like yours. I follow the same basic protocol - if I need to email students in the clubs that I sponsor, I make sure it goes through the district email, that it goes to the entire group (which includes their parent's emails also) and that it is informative, not chatty. Most parents like to hear from teachers through email and I find it is a great way to document parent contact - it is also a great way for them to document your comments as well, so keeping a strictly professional persona is important.
I think Kacie explained in the best with her using the groups feature on Facebook. This truly lets you limit what students see and removes all the concern about student's being able to see your wall and photos. It is a good way to allow students to feel like they are connecting with you in other ways. However, I also believe that the age of the student should be taken into account as well when deciding how to interact with students.
As a side-note Google+ and its circle feature is emerging as a viable possibility to allow teachers and students to interact in the social media sphere. It allows you to finely control your content and distribution of it. Both student side and teacher side I think that it is very promising as a means to allow for teachers, students and parents to interact via social media.
Whew! I am so glad to see I'm not the only one to have had this question come up. I had a student last year ask if I was on Facebook, and I had conflicting feelings about it.
I signed up on Facebook at the urging of family -- my parents are back east (I'm in California) and I have other family members strewn across the United States, as well as a cousin in Japan, and another in Switzerland. For me Facebook is for posting pictures of my kids and relaxing and talking to my friends. It is not for work.
To add another layer to this discussion, I briefly worked at a local prison as a teaching assistant. I almost cancelled my FB account, but didn't want to miss out on my family and friends. I wound up making everything as private as possible (Friends ONLY) on all counts, and deleted everything even remotely hinting at where I lived. Inmates are technically not supposed to have access to the internet/cell phones etc, but they have all day to think of ways to get around that, and they do.
I have come to the conclusion that you have to prepare a style/philosophy/plan regarding communication with your students ahead of time. I have started working on a webpage for my students and parents to that end. I want to expand the lines of communication, but I want the lines to be organized in a certain way.
I completely agree Meg! Establishing boundaries is extremely important IFyou are going to step into the Facebook territory!
Even though others have stated that grouping helps to maintain boundaries, but what about the district rules that were put in place the protect not only the students, but the teachers as well.
One the other hand I am not a fan of having students as "friends" on Facebook. I think there should be another means of communicating with students (Thinkfinity). We are in the 21st Century of Technology I am sure that we can find other means to connect with students and parents on a professional level.
I understand some of your points, but my belief is that Facebook should be left on the personal level.
This article, titled "Missouri Outlaws Teacher-Student Facebook Friendship" showed up in my Google Reader this morning. Very interesting read:
"According to Missouri Senate Bill 54, just signed by state Governor Jay Nixon, any social networking is prohibited between teachers and students. This includes not only Facebook, but any social network 'that is exclusive and allows for private communication,' according to ABC News."
Will this law prompt other states to follow with similar legislature?
Thanks for sharing the article. It definitely provides food for thought. I am a strong advocate of teachers and students maintaining appropriate boundaries so I agree that befriending students on a social networking site is not using good judgement. However, I'm now sure I would go so far as to make this a law.
It will be interesting to see if other states follow Missouri's lead. Also, I wonder how this law will hold up if challenged in court. I am curious to learn how Missouri will police teachers and students to make sure they comply with this law.
Digital media does pose many new challenges that were never a problem for previous generations. I still think it is best for teachers and students to communicate in ways other than through social networking.
There are three issues with this law.
(1) How does this affect more than just facebook, but blogging or other types of sites which meet the standard of this law?
(2) Former students: What if they are 23?
(3) Exclusive: Does this mean if I create a facebook group and make it public thus administrators can see it it is ok? Or is requiring someone to sign up an account make it exclusive even though the site can be made public record? If it is this, then much of what is online and useful can be considered exclusive and thus blocked by this law.
The question is how does a facebook or a similar site help a student learn in the classroom? This is not an issue of whether a teacher wants to be friends or not. At this point, I have had more success using a main blog and having students create individual blogs in which are connected to this main blog as a way to enhance learning in the classroom.
On a side note, I am seeing folks talk about their personal facebook page. I think folks need to look at this as if I create a facebook page for my classroom. Because the question is how effective or helpful social networking or exclusive based sites could be for classroom learning.
I think you make an excellent point. It's not really a matter of a teacher's personal FB page or blog site. Those are in affect personal. And should be kept private.
But as with a group site, specifically for a class, (in my case, I belong, and a chair person for the American Orchid Society, and the discussions revolve around contained group topics) it's fine. And the site is moderated.
As should a site devoted to say a classroom, you would need to have a moderator (a responsible site should have one, as to remove posts that are offensive and serve no purpose other than aggitation or buffoonery.)
But as social networking becomes more a part of everyone's lives, then use it in a way that is constructive.
I've even had parents Facebook friend me! That's just asking for trouble.
I have recently set up a classroom page through Shutterfly and it seems to work really well. I am able to share school events, pictures and updates with both students and teachers. It's also a nice way to record the year and keep parents updated on our progress.
My husband teaches high school and he is always getting requests from students... which I find scary! But to put things in perspective, he friended his teachers when in college and even now he works with them at his high school !
I am a regular user of Facebook. And I am a college professor. However, even though I teach adults, if they are students enrolled in my class or in my school, I do not allow them to be FB friends. Only after they graduate. Also, after they graduate, I do allow them to be a Linked In "friend". This I do to help them in a professional network.
To add, the teacher is not there to be a student's friend. You can be friendly in the classroom. I however provide my email to all my students so that they can easily contact me and I to them. I also use email to send them a PDF document of my critiques of their projects. I have a record and so do they.
Social networking is a good tool as far as students to students; they can share what they are doing project wise. Get critiques from friends. Peer critiques.
I don't friend children. Period. My adult comments are not for children. Neither do I have FB connections to my supervisors at work. My opinions are not for other faculty either. Unless, they are personal friends. While it is not legal to be fired over an opinion of a supervisor over what has been said on FB, it appears such things do happen; people have been fired. And this is not legal. But play it safe. Don't friend anyone unless they are close personal freinds.
Bans don't work or do they? Facebook article
I don't use facebook as a classroom tool, but bans seem to raise questions of constitutionality and possibly limit creative thinking in how to use current and future tools in the classroom. Click here for another article on Missouri and Facebook.
The other interesting point raised if I look at facebook as more than a teaching tool, thus raising the issue of friending students (which is a different issue than using the tools in the classroom), what do we do with folks in small towns or schools who see there students and families on a regular basis in places such as church and/or areas where parents, teachers, and students may be collaborating on other projects and building friendships.
We are building communities right?
The assumption is that Facebook is only for personal friends - Facebook is also used by businesses and other professionals as a way of communicating with customers. I get the idea that most people perceive FB as a personal social networking site, and LinkedIn, for instance, as a professional networking site. This perception, although not completely accurate, is important.
The problem is that no matter what a site is meant for, or used for, some will use it inappropriately. I have been online in professional situations and had inappropriate things said to me.
Facebook communications are controlled by the person who creates it, and therefore there may not be a monitor for the conversations. Teachers who want to communicate with students on the internet need to keep it open for administrators, parents, and the public to see, similar to keeping your classroom door open when you are having one-on-one conversations with students.
I am against a ban because I feel it is unconstitutional, however, I do not have, nor would I suggest to any teacher that they use FB as a way to communicate with students, as the perception is that it is for personal friendship, despite the reality.
It is always an interesting discussion. My question is always - Is it ok to be alone with a student in a classroom? Which is worse - having a public recorded conversation with a student or being along with them?
I have a facebook and use it with students. Is it personal - yes, is it professional - yes. It is my life, but that said, I am careful of what I post online - anywhere, not just facebook. I live in a small town and see my students eating at the local bar, at the grocery store, at social events, at athletic events, etc. I use facebook to see what they are up to, to keep tabs on them, and to be a part of the community that raises our children. I talk with parents, I share with them what i see if there are inappropriate items. I also talk with students when I see things they are doing online that are inappropriate. I encourage parents to be a part of that conversation with their child.
And of course, every kid loves a atta boy when you see them doing something nice and it is shared with their friends. Example: basketball team had a tough game. Couple of players did a stand out job and I would comment on their performance.
If someone is going to do something inappropriate with a student, they are going to find a way to do it. Facebook is not evil. It is the people who don't set the boundaries in relationships.
I agree with you, Leslie. My district has a loosely followed rule about electronic communication with students and I completely understand the dangers - for both student and teacher. We now have MyBigCampus, which works just like FB and the kids are slowly warming up to it. I wish the FB rule was not in place though because we have to meet the kids where they are and they are on FB. I have had students (before the rule) contact me on FB about homework or issues they had in the class. True, I don't want to "work" when I'm at home, but let's face it, we're teachers - we're always on duty.