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May 14, 2010 - Kylie Saari
Facebook at this time in history is phenomenon no one is sure how to use appropriately. Sure we can all sign up and of course most of us have figured out how to post status updates and possibly even post some pictures. Even the Sentinel is on Facebook (if you haven't yet - Friend us. Go ahead, I'll wait.)
Back? Great, so as I was saying, Facebook is pretty much here to stay as anyone who noticed the other websites touting its bling in the last couple weeks can attest. Noticed that you can recommend news articles on Facebook with the touch of a button? Surprised to find ads with your name in the headline for something you hit the like button for? It is because Facebook isn't just friends with you — it is friends with all kinds of people and companies and just like anyone else, it wants to introduce its friends to each other.
But there is another problem it seems users haven't figured out yet. Should you friend your kids? Your parents? Your boss? These are the struggles adults need to consider. But a new trend has popped up. Teachers friending students.
Fairmont Area High School principal Lynn Manske said the school has not encountered any problems with staff and students friending each other — in fact it hasn't even come up internally.
But that isn't the case everywhere.
According to an article in the Star Tribune, the state of Missouri has had a series of sexual student-teacher relationships that lead to a crack-down on social media between the groups. Louisiana has laws in place monitoring electronic media between students and teachers. Even Mankato has staff guidelines about appropriate behavior.
The problem is that teachers are an authority figure for students. There is a difference between being friends with someone and being friendly to them. Can they retain their status while their students are seeing the result of Facebook quizzes determining which celebrity their teacher most resembles? Or catching a rant about end of semester grading?
And if you think this doesn't happen, think again. I have several friends who teach. I was shocked the first time I realized it was their students who were responding to their personal posts. (you can tell because they often refer to them with an honorific — Yur 2 fny, Mr Hall! or Your baby is so cute! Bring her to class tomorrow, Mrs. Berry!) You get the idea.
There are teachers who believe Facebook is a valuable tool for connecting to students. It is informal, students check it regularly, and it is an opportunity to see what the kids are doing off school time and call them on it if it is inappropriate. After all, if the student friends you and you catch references to drugs and alcohol, they are essentially telling you what they are doing. A responsible adult can then step in.
Everyone should be aware of where their Facebook information shows up. A Facebook page is like your home. You have personal things there and not all of it is for everyone. But unlike your house, people checking your profile can snoop in your cabinets without anyone knowing.
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