Nowadays, social networks are an integral part of modern society. Teachers can use their accounts in a different way: for the personal purposes (to share photos with the nearest and dearest and to get some news from them), for social ones (get to know what happens in various themed publics and society in general, or for entertainment) and professional ones (learn and share some professional tips or search for new clients). Teenager students, in their turn, use their social network account for socialising and entertainment. They can come across their teacher’s account and start investigating it, as well as teachers can examine their students’ accounts. Thus, in our article we have collected some pieces of advice for teachers to follow that will help them to avoid sticky situations.
Despite the fact that students may send you some ‘friend’ requests to your social networks or follow you, there are some reasons in favour and against it.
Why you should avoid it:
- Teens may use the information that you have posted a long time ago (take my word for it, some of them can do that) and turn it against you or demonstrate some awareness of your personal life to other students. In the mildest case they can say ‘You have been to Greece, I saw the photos you posted 3 years ago’, however, they can also say ‘I noticed you’ve been to the red light district in Amsterdam, what is there?’ and you may feel confused about how to answer (or avoid answering).
- This may result in too friendly relations that will affect the discipline in class. So, you’d better not leave any comments or ‘likes’ under photos of your students.
- You can start judging students according to what you see in their personal pages.
On the other hand, following your students in social networks can:
- foster friendly relations in class: if you know more about your students’ life outside the classroom, you can adapt materials to their needs and interests.
- vary activities in class: one of the tasks can be to choose a photo from groupmate’s account and comment on it – so you need to know what is there on their pages.
- warn you about some problems they are facing: this might be depression or family problems, having too much work at school or a breakup with their partner. In this case, you can help them with advice after a class or somehow adjust your lesson and discuss such problems in general without pointing to anyone in particular.
All in all, it is up to you whether to follow your students or not. However, look at what is recommended to a teacher of teenagers on social media:
- Control what you post on the Internet. There should be no naked photos, as well as pictures with alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. You can do everything you want in your free time, but it is not a must to post all these things on the Internet, is it?
- Make your Instagram account private. In this case, you will be able to filter who sees your page, that is your Stories and photos.
- Don’t post photos of your students on social networks. Some parents can be against posting any photos on the Internet, others may consider that violation of their children privacy. You can do it only your students’ parents gave written consent.
- Don’t complain about your students or your place of employment on the Internet. It makes a bad showing not only about your employer but you as a specialist and a person.
- Do not geo-tag your school or institution, unless you want your students easily find your account.
- Remember that everything you post will remain on the Internet forever. If someone wants to find some scandalous information about you, they will unless you think over every your word and photo.
- Create a positive image of yourself as a person and as a teacher. Your students don’t have to know about your private problems. If you want to share some information with a particular person use a messenger or call them.
In a word, our life has become more public than ever before. To avoid unsettling implications, control the information that you show forth on the Internet.
Do you follow your teenage students in social networks? Do they follow you?