You’ve probably seen a lot about bullying in recent weeks. I’m going to throw in my two cents’ worth because of something I discovered on Facebook last night. I’m friends with a good number of my former students, including some who are still in school. They often appear on my newsfeed, and last night a girl’s status showed up with a link to a page called “Endless[School Name] Slutss”. Upon clicking on the link, I found a page for a fake persona with about 150 friends and some disturbing statements in what little of the actual profile I could see. I immediately took a screen shot and emailed all the administrators at my school; I have a feeling this page is a way for people to talk trash about a lot of the girls in the school.
I’m not going to attempt to discuss why all of this is suddenly so prevalent – or maybe it just seems prevalent because technology now makes it more visible. I’m more intrigued by the role of social networking in all of this.
For instance, there’s significant debate about whether or not teachers should be friends with students on Facebook or other sites. I decided that it was not appropriate for me to be friends with them while I was still teaching them, but once I left the school I allowed them to friend me. I have them all set on pretty strict privacy settings – most important, they can’t see any pictures of me. Unfortunately, they have not set any restrictions for me – I can see everything about them, and I’m often concerned about what I see, though this is the first time I’ve ever acted on it.
This raises a few questions that I’m going to put out there for anyone to answer – I’d really like to see some debate about this.
- Should teachers be Facebook friends with students, at any time?
- How should schools respond to things like the page that I found?
- Should schools educate students about responsible use of social networking and other technology? What would a program like that include?
- Should teachers respond to students who post concerning content on their Facebook pages, or have you ceded that kind of authority/influence by being friends with them in the first place?