Setting Social Media Boundaries
By Dharma Bartram
In the past decade, the prevalence of social media has greatly risen and impacted many facets of life - school being no exception. This calls into question whether or not social media should be integrated into schools and, if so, what boundaries should be set?
One way social media has become a part of education is by mandated posting on social media as an assignment in the classroom.
One example of this on the Novato High Campus is requiring Associated Student Body (ASB) students to promote school events via social media, whether it be on Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook.
Simone Peretz, a Senior in ASB, explained how she feels about having to post and the benefits of promoting school events on social media.
“I feel really comfortable doing it. I’ve made a separate account so people know they can look it up and find all the events on it. And I’m pretty comfortable posting things on my story; I’ve never had any issue,” Peretz said. “There have been a couple times where I’ve had people send me my story and ask questions so it’s easy for them to receive clarifying questions.”
Sophia Scafani, a junior in ASB, enjoys posting on social media for her classes.
“I feel like it is part of my job being in leadership to in a sense hype up our events to try to get more people at each event and I feel like through social media I can do that and make it happen,” said Scafani. “Some people make fun that I have to post things on Snapchat stories but I don’t really mind because if it gets people to games to support their peers or gets more people at events, it doesn’t really matter.”
Seniors have also been required in all English classes or their senior project to create an Instagram account and have a certain amount of posts in order to allow their teacher, and fellow students, to track their progress.
Senior Chadd Alciati does not see much of an issue with this component of the Senior Project, but acknowledges that posting should not be mandated.
“I think that it isn't that big of a deal, as it is much easier for us to post on Instagram or other social medias as we are always on it anyways,” said Alciati. “I think it is only a problem if the student doesn't want to post, and is still forced to. I don't think that teachers should force students to post on social media for a grade, as it seems like that would be crossing a privacy boundary. But if the students don't care, then it isn't a problem.”
While some students are fairly comfortable with posting on social media as an assignment, most can agree that students and teachers should have boundaries in this space.
Peretz pointed out the potential risks to students and teachers being connected with each other on social media.
“Personally, I think it gets complicated. Students post a lot of things that their teachers shouldn’t be seeing and that’s normal,” said Peretz. “Students have the right to privacy and so do teachers. I think if you feel comfortable allowing your teachers to follow you, it’s your own choice, but you have to be careful not to put them in a situation that could be threatening to both your careers.”
Stephanie Searle, who teaches Leadership, Yearbook and Health, is well connected with students on social media and provided insight on the pros and cons of students and teachers interacting with each other on these platforms.
“I think students enjoy seeing their teachers’ lives outside of the classroom - Ms. Hausler loves when students bring her coffee, Ms. Wright and Mrs. Roberts love their students and sharing their adventures, Mr. Searle and I love posting endless pictures of our kids. Students get to see that we don't just live in our classrooms, that we are normal humans that enjoy their lives,” said Searle.
However, Searle asserted that discretion must be used by both parties.
“If everything or majority of what's posted is illegal, inappropriate or unkind, neither (student nor teacher) should friend the other person,” said Searle.
Junior Jack Curtis agrees with Searle.
“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I like seeing what my teachers lives are outside the classroom but it becomes a problem when kids start posting (about) drugs and alcohol on their social media and the teachers see it,” said Curtis.
Government teacher Conor Callahan prefers privacy but can agree that some classes are more suited than others for social media use.
“I like my professional life to be separate from my private life. I know that some teachers need it and that's perfectly fine; it's suited to that class,” said Callahan.
Callahan keeps two separate Facebook accounts as a precaution to maintain professionalism and acknowledged the risks of posting something risky in general.
“Care always needs to be taken on social media because it is public,” said Callahan.
Social media gives students and teachers alike a lot of freedom to share even the most private aspects of their lives, making it necessary to assess how much one wants to regulate their interactions and that such interactions can have ramifications.