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It is impossible to imagine the world without digital technologies today. The Internet and social media platforms have implemented in our life so much that there is no such area that is not affected by it. The Pew Research Internet Project’s national survey of teens and parents has shown the statistics of the Internet usage: 95% of teens have an access to the Internet and 81% of them have an account on the popular social media platforms. Of course, it may seem that teachers can take an advantage of such accessibility of teens: using social media they can communicate with their students. But is it a good idea?
There are two opinions, as there are both positive and negative sides of this issue. On the one hand, teachers can use blogs to provide additional materials for studies and give assignments to students. This way of communication is very popular among teens, it is more convenient for them and more interesting, so the chance that they will be interested in studies is higher.
In addition, it is a great way to explain proper online behavior. Communication with peers has nothing in common with communication with teacher, so it is a perfect possibility to learn the difference between personal and professional digital speech. Plus, teens start to understand the appropriateness of posts and photos for sharing.
On the other hand, not all adults believe that it is a wise decision. For example, Terri Miller, president of S.E.S.A.M.E. (Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation) states: “Communication technology has perpetuated blurred boundaries and sexual misconduct. Adults are saying things to children online and via text that they wouldn’t say face to face. They forget who they’re talking to. This can be a prelude to sexual contact.” According to this point of view, convenience of communication between an adult and a teen may turn from advantage to danger, especially in case if teen’s social media is not monitored by parents. As a result, common rules of social media policy include the following: Do not accept currently enrolled students as friends on personal social networking sites. Decline any currently enrolled student-initiated friend requests. Do not initiate friendships with currently enrolled students on social networking sites. (Griswold Public Schools policy, 2014).
School administrations tend to support more training and passive monitoring approach to teacher-student communication. Still, teachers can benefit from the possibilities that modern technologies offer: there are plenty of apps that allow them to send notifications to parents and students about studies and assignments without a possibility to chat with students. Such apps store all messages sent by the teacher so school administration can check content of these messages any time.
Much prominence should be given to a social media policy in every educational institution that should prescribe digital communication between teachers and students as well as teacher’s interactions online, because teacher becomes a role model for teens. Still, communication between students and teachers on Facebook may be useful as a real-world example of digital security: it shows clearly that what happens in Facebook does not stay in Facebook.