Q: I was surprised to see that my child's teacher
accepted her as a friend on Facebook. Is that allowed by most
A: Rules about social networks and teachers vary
from school district to school district. Some districts simply
advise faculty to make responsible choices when it comes to
connecting with students online through social networks, while
others have made policies to forbid it completely.
You can check your local district policies, but if your
child's teacher accepted a friend request, chances are your
district does not have a strict ruling on the subject.
Whenever a child is connecting with an adult, parents
should be aware of the situation. While there can be benefits for
teachers and kids connecting through Facebook, there can also be
complications. Teachers who allow minors to connect with their
network will have to be vigilant if they are mixing their student
network with their personal lives.
Not sure if you are comfortable with the idea? Ask
yourself these questions:
Is the teacher's profile
school-centered? The teacher might create a
fan page based on the class, a book, a class project or a sport he
coaches. This type of network sets a theme for conversation around
a particular activity or group and allows students to ask
questions, contribute ideas, get information and discuss
Does your child have a unique connection offline
with the teacher? If the teacher is a family
friend, tutor, counselor or coach, the online connection may be
mirroring the offline relationship.
Do you recognize other students?
Notice how many other students have also "friended" this
teacher. If you don't see any familiar faces or other young teens
on the teacher's friend list, you may want to monitor the
Can you see the teacher's profile?
Depending on privacy settings, you may be able to see the
teacher's postings and profile without actually "friending" her. If
not, you won't be able to see beyond posts or messages that appear
on your child's account.
Is the teacher's network kid
friendly? Even an adult who models
responsible online behavior can be caught off guard when old
college friends post material. Anytime your child connects with an
adult, they also have access to other adults and adult
Does the teacher know you're
watching? Teachers who have a public setting
will be aware that their profiles and posts are available to the
world. If you can't see the teacher's posts or are uncomfortable
with your child connecting with the teacher, talk with the teacher
offline and in private about the situation.
Sharon Cindrich is a mother of two tech-savvy kids from Virginia Beach. Learn more at sharoncindrich.com.
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