Should teachers and students be "friends" on social networking sites?

I was recently sent this article about teachers accepting the "friendship" of their students on Facebook and after reading it, I have thoughts, but I am wondering what others think.

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Hi, I think yes....... Teacher can be student friend. There are many benefits like teens are always in social networking site active or share there thought, you will understand wht's going on there mind. And your are also friendly with them too.

A few years ago I moved about two hours away from students that I had been teaching for two years, and had subsequently become quite close with. After much begging on their part, I agreed that I would create a Facebook account to become friends with them. The page contains very little information about myself, but I like having it because it allows my old students to check in every once in a while.

For teachers who do feel comfortable becoming "friends" with their current students, I think that it can be an invaluable resource. Students check it constantly and so it can be a great way to ask their teacher for help or receive reminders about when assignments are due. I thought that a "physics group" on Facebook would be a great way for students to connect with each other and ask for help outside of school. While I was unable to create it because I am not friends with my students, I had one reliable student in the class create it and invite their classmates. It is still early in the year so it hasn't come in handy yet, but I'm hoping it will help my students to help each other achieve greater understanding of the concepts.


I did not think that I had anything new to add to this discussion until I thought about what I am learning in my educational technology class right now.  I thought it was cut and dry.  My district will not allow any current teacher to "friend" a current student in our school district. I cannot text a student due to the fact that there is no independent "checker" of any correspondence as there is with the school email system. This is an old discussion and talks about Facebook, but what about a ning? I find myself wondering about what the district's rules would be about this and if they have even considered all of the other methods of communication that are out there, like Twitter!

Personally, as a parent, I think that the fact that an adult wants to share personal information with a student waves red flags and I would never want students on my Facebook account. The problem is how do we create electronic interaction which the kids love, but with the built in safeguards to protect children from predators and good teachers from false accusations.  As technology keeps changing, the rules will never be able to catch up.

Although the original post date was several years ago, this will forever be a relevant topic.  I read the article and found several of the points to be very valid.  First, does accepting a student friend request (current student or former student), cross the line as a teacher. Second, what is the district's policy on "social" communications/interaction with students during your personal time?  Does the district even have a policy? Finally, are you putting your own self at risk by communicating with current and/or former students on a "social" network?

In my opinion, this whole subject is grey matter.  Moreover, most areas surrounding technology and its governing policies appear to be uncharted waters.  Simply put, we are "making up the rules as we go along".  

In my personal and professional opinion "friending" a student just seems to leave the door open for potential issues.  While several of the examples in the article appeared reasonable (KIPP to College page), there could still be potential problems.

I personally have been faced with the "friending" issue numerous times and while there are many good reasons to say "accept", I have not added any of my former students.  My primary reason for not "friending" any former students boils down to not wanting to remotely jeopardize, career and or my family.

In my opinion, it is never a good idea to "friend" a student on your personal social media pages. There are too many things that can go wrong and it's not worth jeopardizing your career, etc. That being said, there are numerous ways that students and teachers can professionally interact with each other without crossing personal boundaries. Facebook now has the option to add "Pages" which students can "like" in order to get updates, homework assignments, etc. There are also sites like Edmodo (similar to Facebook) which are designed specifically for teachers and students. With as many professional social media applications as there are today, I think there are better options for teachers to stay connected with students than through personal web spaces.

In my district, we are prohibited from interacting with students on social networks, students' personal emails, and telephone communication with the student. I teach fifth grade and most of my students complete their homework on their personal computers at their home. Not being able to email me is something that they have trouble grasping when their printer is not working or they need to contact me about questions outside of school. I do not respond to their emails and remind them in person that they must contact me through their parents. I think that not being Facebook friends is necessary to keep a professional relationship. Many of the people in the article mention that they keep their Facebook PG and it is a great way to interact with their students, although I still feel there are other sites that would do this more appropriately. The students look at Facebook as a place to see their friends and a teacher should not be placed in that same category. I agree with Patrick, in this forum, who stated that you should compare Facebook to a social setting and you would not hang out with your students outside of school. I do however wish I was able to create a wiki or some kind of blog to communicate with my students outside of school. I would use this as a way to create discussions, answer questions about homework and projects, and give the students additional resources to work on at home. This would also be a great way to teach my students how to properly use the internet for educational purposes. Unfortunately, due to my district's policy that I mentioned earlier, this is not possible for me. I do have a classroom website, however I feel that my students do not get the same experience from it.

It's an extremely dangerous thing to friend students.  They have access to every post and picture you put up and every picture you get tagged in.  If you have old friends who comment on one of your posts and their comments aren't appropriate, or perhaps reference something that happened in your past, it'll be all over the school in 30 seconds.  The fact of the matter is, teachers can be mentors, role models and in a sense friends, but not in the online environment.  There are plenty of ways to support the emotional needs of students without giving them access to every detail of your past.  The bottom line is, despite technology, there is still such a thing as professionalism.

Because I work in a college setting (adult students) its different but many of the issues raised are the same. Just like I wouldn't mix my social life with my professional, I agree that I shouldn't do that virtually either.  Because just able every student I know if on Facebook I get asked to "friend" all the time.  I mentioned it to a friend and she said she created a separate Facebook site for her professional network, colleagues and former students.  All my comments are either encouragement, showing an interest in their lives (what college are you at? How do you like it?) or I get asked for letters of recommendations, etc.  My former students like knowing that I care and I like keeping an active professional "network" of colleagues.

I do not think that teachers and students should be friends on any social websites. I think that as a teacher you need to be professional and know boundaries. Their are many ways that teachers can communicate with their students such as email and phone that would not involve any social networking.You do want to have students have access pictures and or personal information about yourself. Your administration would not think it was a good idea either. You do not want a friendship to ever get too friendly or to put yourself in a tight spot. Students may twist and turn different interactions you have with them on the site even if it is harmless. You are not doing your job by being a students friend, you are their to educate the student. You need to protect yourself as a professional and I believe the best way is to stay far away from any social interaction such as Facebook. 

I have had this conversation many, many times with colleagues.  There are some that feel there is no problem at all with "friending" their students.  As a high school teacher, I feel that there is a very fine line that could easily be crossed, mostly unintentionally, if you "friend" a student.  My personal rule-of-thumb is that if a student "friends" me while they are in school, I always say no; but if they have graduated I may consider accepting the friend request.  I created a separate list for colleagues/former students and what they are allowed to view on my profile is different than what my family and close friends are able to view.

I know the article and the majority of the posts on this thread are almost four years old, but I do believe this is a topic worth bringing up again and again. I find that the article does a good job in making you rethink how you perceive this argument.  Are we, as teachers, supposed to be friends with our students?  Our job is to teach them and prepare them for their careers.   I agree with everyone that says to wait until they are older and in college or beyond, and not to accept while they are still in your building.  In the four years since this article and the first post was made, people have lost their jobs or have been over looked at job interviews because of having a social network account.  It just does not seem worth it.  It would be great to be able to post on students’ walls to remind them of something due in the upcoming weeks instead of posting on a homework hotline or having them write it down before leaving class, but that time is still not now. 

I think teachers should think carefully about what their motives are before becoming "friends" with their students on social medial sites.  Students make it very clear that they prefer the instant responses they get from these sites, and that communicating through email has become a thing of the past.  There are ways that sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be incorporated into a course or lesson, but I think these sites were originally designed for socialization.  In the instance of using social media sites as part of a class project, the group should be limited to the students in the class, and conversations should revolved around specific lessons and tasks.  In these situations, it should be made clear that personal conversations are restricted.

There have been reports in the news of educators getting in serious trouble,not because they were "friends" with their students, but because they made inappropriate comments on their pages and photos.  One case in New York tells of how "one teacher friended several female students and wrote comments including "this is sexy" under their photos, investigators said. A substitute teacher sent a message to a student saying that her boyfriend did not "deserve a beautiful girl like you."

Social media sites can be a valuable asset in education, but it is vital for both educators and students alike to use the forums responsibly and appropriately.



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