Poll: Should Teachers and Students Be 'Friends' on Facebook?

Some say it's a great way to communicate with kids. Others say it's creepy. What do you think?


Should students and teachers ever be friends on Facebook?

It's a new question school districts around the country are having to consider.

In some cases, there's been inappropriate contact when the friending has occurred.

According to the Huffington Post, a teacher in New York "friended several female students and wrote comments including 'this is sexy' under their photos."  And this: "A substitute teacher sent a message to a student saying that her boyfriend did not "deserve a beautiful girl like you."

At the same time, districts have to consider the academic benefits of social networking. There are some who say social media – particularly Facebook – can be an excellent means of communicating with today's youth, since a great majority log onto Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other Internet mechanisms on a daily basis.

Nancy Willard, author of "Cyber Savvy: Embracing Digital Safety and Civility," is quoted in the Huffington Post article. She sees a fundamental problem with Facebook.

"On Facebook, flirting is encouraged," she told HuffPo. "You are encouraged to post your relationship status and your relationship interests. That's not appropriate for a relationship between teachers and students."

What do you think? What do your kids think? If you're a teacher, what are your feelings? Take our poll, and leave us your comments.

Rebecca Anwar May 05, 2012 at 01:43 PM
While it's a great way to communicate with students, teachers needs their privacy and personal life as well. I would suggest teachers to open an account only for students, that way they could stay in touch with their students while having their privacy protected.
Maria Pia May 05, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Antonio Catpo May 05, 2012 at 03:15 PM
I don't get it. Everybody is worry about privacy but, at the same time, people put their entire life (pictures, thoughts, desires) on FB, I have a FB account, but just to keep in touch with 3 friends who don't like e-mail.
Jamie Baker May 05, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I have observed this is the High School sports world where coaches are friends with the players and found it a great platform for communicating changes to practice times and locations, raising awareness for upcoming games (friends of friends) and other pertinent issues. Proper parenting prevents piss poor performance. Those who voted no, perhaps do not understand Facebook and how to use it and how all the privacy functions work. Everyone is really busy, including students, so when getting messages to kids, you have to go to where the kids are, and we know they are checking Facebook.
Seth Rosenblatt May 05, 2012 at 03:41 PM
The above debate creates a false choice -- by assuming Facebook is the platform to get the benefits of "social" communication. Absolutely, the "social construct" is transforming everything, including education, because the underlying principles of using technology to foster social collaboration are infusing every part of the way we work together as people. Facebook is just a public instantiation of this concept, but it's hardly the only platform (just the most visible). So, public schools will most surely embrace "social" applications to foster communication, not only between students and teachers, but among teachers, among students, and between teachers and parents. But it won't be on Facebook. There are many "private" social media platforms that already exist for businesses (e.g. Jive, Yammer, etc.), and a number that are starting to emerge to serve schools and school districts (e.g. Edmodo). These will be customized for the educational environment and will have the appropriate controls and security measures to make it most effective for teaching and learning. So, students and teachers don't need to be friends on Facebook (and take along all of the baggage associated with that), because they'll get the same benefits elsewhere.
Michael Talis May 05, 2012 at 03:52 PM
My kids don't use Facebook much. The older one started using it when Facebook just came out - she was a college student at the time and became an early adapter. Now, about 7 years later, she is talking about closing the account for privacy concerns. Student-teacher communications are not for public forums.
Bren May 05, 2012 at 06:55 PM
People should stop being phobic of technology. The future has arrived, in the form of social media sites like Facebook, and it would be really, really, really stupid to suggest that educators shouldn't be able to use this technology to engage their students. Facebook didn't cause any of those teachers to say or do inappropriate things; Facebook merely provided an electronic paper trail documenting those teachers' inappropriateness. In that sense, Facebook is making students safer, because if those bad teachers weren't posting their weirdness on Facebook, there'd be no documentation of it and no parents or school administrators would ever find out about it. If your child had a pervert for a teacher, wouldn't you rather have that pervert incriminating himself on Facebook so you can bring screen shots to the police and school officials? I think you would, if the alternative is for him to remain undercover because of stupid prohibitions against teachers and students interacting on Facebook.
Patrick O' May 05, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Teachers and students/parents should not be fb friends... Some teachers do a generic fb page and allow parents to friend that, but what teacher is going to want her students parents in their personal business...
Soorma Bhopali May 06, 2012 at 03:57 AM
check us out at www.shouldteachersandstudentsbefacebookfriends.com.
Andrew May 06, 2012 at 05:38 AM
Well, in my choir class we have a pet fish. So my choir teacher made a Facebook for the pet fish that she controls. She gives us useful information through the fish and it's fun! She does have her own fb account, but she told us not to friend her. Moral of the story. Teachers should make an alternate fb just for students/teachers.
Char Vanderweel May 06, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Absolutely not! Highly inappropriate.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive May 06, 2012 at 03:31 PM
It's no different than email and much easier to monitor.
Rob Chapman May 06, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Teachers are just that, teachers. Not friends. Did children hang out with their teachers in the days before the internet? No. Did they talk to each other on the phone after school or on weekends? No. Doing those things would have been considered strange. If not worse. It's the same with Facebook. Get with the times, you say? Children should be able to learn even when they aren't in school, you say? Isn't that what parents are for?
Eugene May 07, 2012 at 03:37 PM
NO! Teachers should keep their private lives private. Do not share your life with your students. Teachers do not need children as friends and students do not need teachers as friends. Any teacher who would accept students as a FB friend I find strange and concerned.
Judi May 07, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I agree with Rebecca. Both teachers and students (and all of us), need to be careful about postings on public billboards. Yes, the teacher could open (& control) an account for the student-teacher interchange.
Erin Macias May 07, 2012 at 06:23 PM
I agree with Rebecca. Some teachers have great "filters" and are smart about how they post, but I do think they should keep their personal and professional lives separate for a variety of reasons. Facebook is a GREAT way to connect to this generation and class pages are wonderful tools! They can be used to teach kids about using the internet wisely and keep kids and parents informed!
Bill Baker May 07, 2012 at 11:32 PM
When teachers "friend" their students on Facebook it can create a lot of unintended problems and consequences. It's probably not a good idea for teachers to be "friending" their students on Facebook.
Helen Vargas May 08, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Ditto, personal lives should be kept separate from professional lives.
Devan Fellmo May 08, 2012 at 07:40 PM
It seems to me that private life related issues should only be shared with friends and family. Now lets consider the difference between a real friend and someone you have allowed to view your Facebook deemed "Friends". Let us also consider that if you put all your information up on a website and allow EVERYONE access to it then their might be some unintended consequences. Me personally for the same reason that I don't have my Boss as a friend on Facebook neither would I have my teacher.On the other hand If your so worried about your kids teachers being untrustworthy that you can't let them chat online then maybe you should re-evaluate whos teaching your kids and whether or not you want them to continue doing so.
Jack's Advocate May 19, 2012 at 02:46 PM
As a high school substitute teacher, here's my take: My students who I sub for do not know my first name, and it's for good reason. I don't want them to send me a Facebook friend request. It has nothing to do with my "privacy" or anything like that, but it's because our relationship is specifically teacher-student. Now, I have nothing wrong with a student friend-requesting or messaging their teachers for the sake of academic purposes, but as a substitute, after I am with them for that day (unless it's a long term assignment with a specific class), I have no ties with their academic work, therefore I have no reason to communicate with them outside of the period that I am substituting them for. However, when the time comes that I am no longer substitute teaching and a student happens to discover who I am and sends me a friend request, I have no problem being their Facebook friends and staying connected with them for the future. If I am ever their "current" teacher (and as long as I'm a sub, I will entitle myself with that status), my Facebook friend they will never be. The only fly in the ointment is I have coached softball since my own early days in high school, and I am also currently coaching HS softball. The player-coach relationship works well communicating over Facebook, so I have current and former players on my Facebook friends list which I won't delete for the sole reason that I also happen to sub some of them. It can work out greatly if handled right.
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Bren September 21, 2012 at 08:15 AM
Sree, I have flagged your SPAM.
Vanessa Castañeda (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Thank you for doing that for us, Bren.
Selena Nicole Delgado January 23, 2013 at 09:55 PM
This is really helpful. Thank you.


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