Facebook & Teachers: Dangers of Social Networking Cautioned

We’ve written several times recently about the implications of social media on the educational world, from students being advised about posts on Facebook to a story from Ontario where teachers were advised to have no contact with students on Facebook and then most recently about social media vs. education. Today’s news concerns a UK report on Facebook and teachers and a head teacher who has cautioned on the dangers of social networking site for teachers.

We recently told of a teacher who had mocked a student on Facebook but it’s worth remembering that teachers can end up on the wrong end of social networking too. Mike Welsh, head of the Goddard Primary School, and also the outgoing head of the National Association of Head Teachers points to examples of social networking sites being used to “maliciously to abuse and denigrate teachers,” according to BBC News.

One of his staff members for example had a Facebook account set up in his name and took two months trying to get it taken down. The site had a photo of the teacher concerned and was use to post completely inappropriate messages. At a recent National Association of Head Teachers’ conference in Brighton, heads came together to discuss internet abuse and the NAHT states that 20% of head teachers have suffered abuse from social networking sites.

A spokesperson from Facebook though said, “These online discussions are a reflection of those happening offline. But while you can’t report a conversation outside the school gates or easily stop a person sending abusive, anonymous emails, Facebook have worked hard to develop reporting mechanisms that enable people to report offensive content they are concerned about,” and pointed that there were more controls on Facebook than on the wider web. What are your thoughts on the use of sites such as Facebook and education? Let us know with your comments.

  • Stephyo

    I don't think the social media is the problem when concerned with education. The outburst of communication through these sites is comparable to any phenomena that has surfaced in an era in regards to youth. For example, how long before kids took shooting marbles and threw them at each other versus shooting with them? The problem is the advancement of technology happened faster than the ethical and moral guidelines as well as technology to help filter such abuse. We should encourage education to use such sites. It would be meeting our children on their own home ground instead of staying away because we are afraid. These social media sites need good technology that prevents illicit content to come across. For instance, http://www.imagevisionlabs.com does filtering in a real-time fashion and scans, identifies and then isolates unwanted content on photos, images and videos. Nudity can be detected and isolated before it ever makes it to the recipient. They can do the same with hate speech and hate logos etc. These social media sites need to put the technology in place that would help to eliminate these practices, therefore, affording students and teachers the opportunity to communicate without the ability to do so illicitly. Parents need to challenge the sites their children and teachers use to offer such services of cleaner communication. Not so much a dream but a possibility!