Should Teachers And Students Connect On Social Media?

Taking into account the accessibility of social media to all students worldwide, have you ever pondered the way it can alter relationships? What can possibly be the adverse consequences of students adding their teachers as friends on social media platforms like Facebook? The detrimental effects may not be instantaneously visible however can be problematic in the long run.
It is crucial that students get an opportunity to express themselves freely on these platforms (e.g on Twitter, Facebook) as it will contribute to character development overall. Facebook and Twitter are basically social media platforms that provide a virtual space to exhibit their thoughts, opinions, share pictures, documents etc with friends. Study conducted by Jacqui Kearns, from the University of Kentucky, indicated that students who had the freedom to state their opinions at an early age were more academically successful and better off in their careers. In contrast, children under strict surveillance in turn were not as successful or even happy later in life as they lacked the skills needed for effective communication. The importance of communication is further amplified by William Schaffer, international business development manager for computer giant Sun Microsystems who stated, “If there’s one skill that’s required for success in the business industry, it’s communication.”
Having the freedom to express oneself enhances self-expression and the ability to communicate articulately. As students transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, they require some means of independence- where they ought to explore some boundaries of freedom. As times have evolved, modes of independence have changed too, with platforms like Twitter, Facebook etc. taking the limelight now. Hence adding teachers on any such social media platform shall be discouraged as this is likely to restrict the child’s ability to overtly express their opinions rather than conforming to what might appeal to their teachers. In the long haul, this will have a negative impact on their capability to communicate efficiently.
Secondly, students by adding their teachers as friends on social networks, unknowingly categorize them as their buddies in real-life too- adversely affecting the relationship dynamics. The boundaries that the child is supposed to maintain and respect are blurred, resulting in a casual association. This in turn is likely to lead to disrespectful behaviour as the authentic figures lose their command over the child. As these platforms tend to provide an insight into a person’s life, the barriers of respect and regard are gradually torn down.
Nonetheless, many opponents argue that adding teachers as friends on the internet community can prove to be advantageous as it provides the teachers and students alike with a convenient mode of communication (features such as Facebook groups allow teachers to share useful academic posts with students). However, it is not a pragmatic scenario as this situation still leaves a potential chance for abuse or unprofessional conduct; the application itself has in-built features (like Messenger or direct messaging on Twitter or Instagram) that allow individuals to communicate with one another privately and share pictures. In one such incident, a school had to face embarrassment as the teacher was reported to have posted immodest pictures to allure students (faced legal charges for being in a relationship with 3 students).

Furthermore, a study funded by the online security software maker McAfee reported that 70% of the teenagers hide online behaviour from parents through various apps designed for the purpose, a factor that child sexual abusers tend to use to their advantage.
Befriending teachers on social media platforms is likely to have unfavourable outcomes. Given the impressionability of students, abusers can manipulate the use of the particular application to exploit students. Hence given the evident ramifications, a safer and cautious course of action would be to oppose interaction between teachers and students on social media platforms.