Should Your Students Be Your “Friends”?
In his blog post, “Why Facebook Is these sites.... 2) People on these sites send
for Old Fogies,” Lev Grossman of Time friendship requests to friends of people
magazine lists 10 reasons why the popular social networking site is more useful for middle-aged folks than the kids who first embraced it. they have linked to. A teacher would be- come the “guarantor” of all of his or her online friends—including all of the ma- terial these friends post and the friend’s
“Facebook is about finding people interactions with students.
you’ve lost track of,” Grossman writes.
The post garnered 23 responses:
“And, son, we’ve lost track of more people
than you’ve ever met.” You often ask us to avoid blaming the
The Facebook story of the year is not technology. I think this might be an
about lurking predators or lost opportunities from young example of that. If a teacher gets a phone call at home
people posting inappropriate photos for potential employ- and a student’s name is on caller ID, should he answer
ers to view. What’s made Facebook newsworthy lately is it? A lot of flirting happens on the phone.
that this tech tool has become so mainstream even (gasp!) —Brandt Schneider
parents are using it.
I don’t accept students as friends. At one time, I ac-
With more than 175 million active users, many of them
cepted them without question until a number of them
30- and 40-somethings, it might follow that social network-
went away to college and started uploading pictures
ing would become accepted in schools as well. Not so.
of themselves doing keg stands, playing beer pong, or
Larry Anderson, founder of the National Center for
something similar. — Patrick Malley
Technology Planning, wrote in his NCTP blog that he was
floored when a teacher recently told him he would be fired I remember years ago when e-mail first began, we
for having a Facebook page. Anderson’s response: thought that students should not have e-mail accounts,
then we thought a teacher should not e-mail a student.
During recess times, don’t we actually encourage
The idea of e-mailing or texting a student information
students to interact with each other? We even create
about a homework assignment has now become the
games and other situations during recess that force
norm. —Rob Darrow
students to “network.” What excuses do we cling to
that lull us into believing these situations are not as When it comes to social networking sites such as
dangerous as interactions on Facebook? Do we think Facebook, I wonder how students are going to learn
that since we’re monitoring students’ activities on the responsible use without engaged adults providing
playground, nothing will happen? feedback and advice. —Shannon Walters
But many educators, even those who embrace Web 2.0,
are wary of Facebook. Doug Johnson wrote in The Blue
Skunk Blog that he was recently asked if a teacher should
“friend” his or her students on Facebook. His response:
“Absolutely not.” He felt it violated the teacher–student relationship and could lead to inappropriate interactions. He
quoted Nancy Willard, founder of the Center for Safe and
Responsible Internet Use, who said:
Any teacher who links to a student on MySpace or
Facebook is an ABSOLUTE FOOL! I strongly support
and advise district policies against this for 2 reasons:
1) There is a vast amount of flirting that goes on on
Anderson says the main advantage of Facebook for him
is the connections, and there’s a lesson in that. “Is there
value in building connections among people?” he asks. “Is
there value in teaching students how to handle personal
interactions? Is there value in digging deeper to learn more
about the people we call ‘friends’?”
The Blue Skunk Blog, “Don’t confuse social networking with educational
NCTP blog, “Facebook Police”: http://nctpcast.blogspot.com
Time.com, “Why Facebook Is for Old Fogies”: www.time.com/time/
Diana Fingal is the senior editor for L&L. She has been writing for and editing periodicals for more than 20 years.