As a teacher, you shoulder an extreme responsibility: that of acting as an example for our youth. Every move you make is under a microscope, and anything even slightly controversial that you do (whether you intended it that way or not) can be misinterpreted as recklessness at the children’s expense. It’s really not fair . . . but it’s what you signed up for. And there’s no doubt that you are perpetually aware of these invisible ties that bind. One gray area when it comes to being a teacher is social media. To use social networking sites or not to use social networking sites? That is the question. Although there is no definitive answer as to the “right” way to approach online social networking, there are some reasons you may want to play it safe and stay away. Here are five reasons teachers should avoid social media.
Photo tagging. Sure, there may have been soda or fruit punch in that plastic cup, but it looks like alcohol to imaginative students (and paranoid adults). You are an adult, and you can drink if you want to, but it’s best to altogether avoid any of the possible implications associated with “partying” when you are a teacher . . . and there is nothing more incriminating than a photograph.
Keeping students at arm’s length. However you slice it, it is just plain inappropriate to get on too personal a level with your students. It threatens the respect that must prevail in the classroom if you are to run a tight ship. Your students don’t need to know what you did over the weekend- whether you looked at the best cell phone plan comparisons from MyCricket or played golf- and your personal life shouldn’t enter into your student-teacher interactions.
Directed advertisements. Facebook, one of the most popular social media sites, is basically an advertising engine. By participating, you are supporting the practice of sending targeted advertisements to your impressionable students. That just doesn’t seem ethical.
Account safety. Social media users are vulnerable to hackers, scammers and spammers. That means that even if you set your account privacy to the max, it is possible that someday, somehow, your most private and personal information could be leaked on the social networking sites you use. That’s a risk you probably shouldn’t take.
Time. Social networking online can be a real time zap. Chances are, your teaching career keeps you busy and gives you plenty of opportunity to socialize. Why distract yourself with social media?
As you can see, there are some clear reasons for why you might want to consider avoiding social media altogether. Of course, the jury is still out and whether or not you participate is a personal choice. However, when it comes to being a teacher, being safe is preferable to being sorry.