Monday, October 18, 2010

Facebook Friending and LCPS

An interesting conundrum, to be sure, has surfaced between the Loudoun Times-Mirror and certain Loudoun Public School personnel, brought on by the specter of nasty, bullying statements surfacing in public on a popular website. In this case it appeared to be differences in opinion regarding athletic talent. On the one hand, it’s refreshing to see the journalists push back in the name of 1st Amendment principles and acknowledgement of the new realities of the 21st Century Internet – on the other hand, it is certainly laudable to see our Educators sticking up for the students. Too bad this support for online reputation and child safety monitoring doesn’t seem to be enforced and appropriately extended across all online media channels.

What we’ve seen with too frequent occurrence lately, are LCPS teachers and administrative staff actually “friending” students, past and present, on Facebook (and other channels, but this appears the most widespread and problematic). Maybe it’s a helpful channel for extracurricular guidance counseling; maybe it’s a desperate attempt to monitor the out-of-control behavior of unruly kids; or maybe perhaps it’s simply a lame attempt to be considered among the “in” crowd…who knows.

We’ve seen this at BOTH Public and Private schools in the area, and while most of the chatter and re-friending that results appears harmless, it all seems to truly cross the line with respect to several things. One of these is respect for parent and family privacy – why are teachers friending, and accepting friend requests, with my kids? (Of course, we might ask ourselves why our kids are spending so much time friending their teachers). Another is simple loss of authority and respect – are my kids to believe now they can treat their teachers like their friends, complete with utter ignorance of traditional social boundaries and grammar? There are probably many other lines being crossed from bullying and stupidity, to real creepiness and actual laws or policies being broken – but there seems to be no routinely monitored and enforced actions with respect to LCPS teacher interaction with students via public social media.

What should LCPS do? We’ve got lots of ideas – but it would be great to hear from teachers and administration themselves. It would also be great if this practice simply stopped.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Mike said...

Wow! I am outraged to think that a teacher would take an interest in my child's life and that my kids might consider their teacher a "friend". Teachers should never try to engage children and should be seen as grumpy, old, un-hip losers that they can never relate to. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

Seems Fox5 decided to pick up on this blog entry a bit, at http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/teachers-becoming-virtual-friends-with-their-students-good-or-bad-idea-102610 . One of the reasons we started our Dadministrator online safety blog and Whizkids computer training for kids programs many years ago (both of these are no longer active).

8:21 PM  

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