Social Media Policies in Schools Need To Be Enforced With An Iron Fist!

Social Media Policies in Schools Need To Be Enforced With An Iron Fist!

As a dad of two beautiful girls, this makes me want to produce great bodily harm on someone. As a business guy who writes a lot about social business, this is a dialogue that we have to have openly to help educate others.

It saddens me that social media can be used to provoke behavior like this.  A case WAY TO CLOSE TO HOME in Livermore (20 minutes away from my house) has opened my eyes to the problem with social media in the educational environment. Unfortunately, it had to take the arrest of a Livermore teacher in a child molestation case to have school officials re-examine the social media policy between teachers and students. Investigators say 40-year-old Marie Johnson’s relationship with a 14-year-old boy began with text messages, Facebook postings and instant messaging. Video below.

This is not an isolated case either and I am sure there are hundreds more! In fact, several recent cases in West Michigan, people in authority — teachers, staff members, etc. — have been accused of sending inappropriate messages on social media sites to students.

In business, it’s about co-creation, collaboration and making sure that the entire organization is helping drive the business forward together. And in some isolated cases, social business initiatives are gray in terms of ownership, governance etc. There is no real black and white.

But in situations like this that involve children and an institution that I pay taxes to, it is black and white. There should be absolutely NO contact in social media between teachers and students under 18. No collaboration, no conversation, no negotiation, no committees and no center of excellence needed to make a decision. There are enough problems with the world we live in and with the educational system; and adding this to the mix won’t help parents, teachers, school officials, students and everyone else involved.

What do you think? Am I way off base? Jumping to conclusions?  I’d love to hear from some teachers and understand your points of view. In this case, I believe that employers invading privacy is a good thing.

About Michael Brito

Michael Brito has been making things happen online since 1996 with a legit hustle. He gets mad when the 49ers lose, really mad. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.

  • http://itwofs.com/beastoftraal/ Karthik Srinivasan

    I’d opt for ‘way off base’. Why only teachers? Why not include neighbors, local fruit seller, grocery shop owner to this list too? They are on Facebook too, you know! The point is , as parents (I have an 8 year old son and a 15 month old daughter), we need to teach our kids to be discerning and identify the kind of people that may come in contact with them. In India, we hold teachers in an almost God-like position and isolating them to indicate that schools need to enforce social media policies is insulting such a noble profession.

    In this connected age, I’m not sure if you can really shield and protect children by forcing a no-contact rule, not just with teachers, but with any adult that lives near or homes.

  • http://www.wotarticle.com/ articles on internet

    I have to agree with you, the policies in school regarding social media should be enforced with iron fist to protect the welfare of our children.  School is consider as our second home and teachers are our second parent/s, therefore they should treat us as their own children and not molest or do us wrong.  School was supposed to be a safe place for learning.  Besides school, we parents should also teach our children to be cautious and responsible in communicating with other people via social media site.

  • Sushobhan

    I am not a parent but have three adorable nieces under ten. I disagree with Kartik. precisely because teachers are supposedly in an exalted position of trust and authority should they be subject to a strict code of conduct. Kids are taught about good touch and bad touch fairly early; which would make them avoid the drivers/gardeners/random strangers.

    Sadly, the MILF fantasy is perhaps too well entrenched in US society. As is the Electra complex or its flip, the Lolita complex. We live in a bad world.

  • http://www.britopian.com Michael Brito

    @Kathik

    To follow up on the Tweets going back and forth, there are two reasons why I am singling out teachers. Number 1 is they are put in a position of a high degree of trust. Our kids spend 6 – 7 hours with them every single day and we trust them to take care of children, teach them academics and general principles of right and wrong. We don’t place the same degree of trust in our neighbors (for the most part), the store owners, gardeners, etc.
    Number 2 is that it’s a government institution and polices can be enforced easier when law makers and school officials lay the law down.
    I agree, that most “life” education should be done in the home. But the sad reality is that this is not happening in the majority of homes in the US (I don’t have quantifiable data, just my general observation).

  • Anonymous

    As a father, School governance Committee Chair and believer in the good that can come form Social Interaction I agree we need strictly obeyed SM policies in schools. The content of those policies might be where we differ in opinion. 

     In today’s society self accountability and with it parental accountability has diminished to the point of no matter the blatant nature of something it is never a persons fault for making bad choices. As with any rules a huge dose of common sense goes a long way. I personally feel teachers should not be friend with students online just as they should not be friends in real life, acquaintances and mentors differ from friends. I also feel that as parents we need to be diligent in helping our children understand right from wrong and at the same time have some understanding of what our kids are doing. 

     On the flipside I think SM properties manged by the school with miltiple admins (for accountability) can interact with students and parents alike to create a community of advocates for not only the individual school but education as a whole. With multiple admins on an account and keeping strictly to a school to student relationship social can change the way our children learn and at the same time make our world a better place.

  • http://www.britopian.com Michael Brito

    @tacanderson:disqus i agree. I would add that’s a societal problem. We live in a bad world and I don’t know who is to blame.

  • Guest

    As a father, School governance Committee Chair and believer in the good that can come form Social Interaction I agree we need strictly obeyed SM policies in schools. The content of those policies might be where we differ in opinion. 

     In today’s society self accountability and with it parental accountability has diminished to the point of no matter the blatant nature of something it is never a persons fault for making bad choices. As with any rules a huge dose of common sense goes a long way. I personally feel teachers should not be friend with students online just as they should not be friends in real life, acquaintances and mentors differ from friends. I also feel that as parents we need to be diligent in helping our children understand right from wrong and at the same time have some understanding of what our kids are doing. 

     On the flipside I think SM properties manged by the school with multiple admins (for accountability) can interact with students and parents alike to create a community of advocates for not only the individual school but education as a whole. With multiple admins on an account and keeping strictly to a school to student relationship social can change the way our children learn and at the same time make our world a better place.

  • http://twitter.com/deb_lavoy deb louison lavoy

    Michael – I too have kids in school and in the world, and I worry about the safety of their hearts and minds every minute of the day. But a great teacher is one who’ll guide the kids in their exploration and interpretation of the world. I hope that social media will help great teachers be ever greater. I agree that teachers who are either confused or evil are a great threat, but all adults who are confused or evil are equally threatening and few adults have the potential for such positive interaction as our teachers do.

    I think what we need is a way to help monitor and advise our children’s social interactions rather than say that teacher-student interaction is bad. Should we prevent all adult-child interaction on social media? Much to my son’s chagrin, I keep his passwords and tell him that I check in on his accounts from time to time so that I can help him improve his judgement, if need be.

  • http://www.britopian.com Michael Brito

    Thanks for the comment Deb. In my opinion, most teachers aren’t great (at least in my personal experience), and I am not sure I would want to risk my child’s safety based on that assumption.

  • Anonymous

    I disagree–and for the record, I have a young daughter as well. I think that social media can be an appropriate tool, but that teachers and students alike need guidance in what that appropriate use is. For example, I see no problem with a Facebook Group that is available to the entire class but not the general public, but I would have a problem with private interaction such as direct messages. The malefactors will use the technology for ill whether you legislate
    against it or not. But most people won’t use it for ill. That’s true of
    social media just as it is of anything else.

    Real-world parallel: I often went in for extra help with math. This was available before and after school, and sometimes the teacher and I were the only people in the room. But the door was always open. The problems happen when the door is closed, so that the people inside are isolated. If teachers and students know what constitutes an “open” or “closed” door on social media sites, then everyone is in a better position.

    I would also like to say that the actual statistics show that the world we live in is no more “bad” than it has been in the past–we just hear more about the bad incidents because we are more connected. But the rate at which they happen is no greater (and in fact is lower) than it has been for the past several decades.

  • http://twitter.com/deb_lavoy deb louison lavoy

    I guess my issue is that evil teachers are not the only threat. Bullying, strangers and even relatives can all take advantage of the guilelessness of children. We need a general solution.

  • http://www.britopian.com Michael Brito

    Yes, completely agree. Much more difficult to write a blog post about all the evil in the world since there is a lot.

  • http://twitter.com/iamlawless D. Lawless

    I agree Michael, but I have a solution.  It won’t stop the craziness in the world but it may be a more appropriate solution. No Facebook interaction between teachers and students *and* a social media site can be set up via the school like they do in MBA school.  How about a tool like GoogleWave or Basecamp for businesses so that it can be monitored.  

    Teacher-student contact should not be private nor should any unrelated adult and a minor. I have a daughter and I would not want a male teacher on her eventual facebook page…and speaking of that, I think parents are too free with allowing their young teens to have a public social media page. 

    -D

  • http://vinebuzz.biz/ Rich Reader

    Thanks for your speedy consideration of my initial
    concerns.  As I review your post, I see
    other points of order and concern as we work toward a deeper understanding of
    the outlook and a variety of possible outcomes.

     

    While I agree with you that there are 75 million millenials,
    is it true that everyone in a particular age cohort is (or will become) a
    member of the job market?  Historical
    data would not support that assumption. 
    “Expected to hit the job market” remains an overstatement.

     

    Indeed, half of enterprises do provide social tools to their
    workforce for the purpose of knowledge capture, information gap closure,
    collaboration, and real-time communication. 
    Yet, the training, support, and guidance that most employees need to
    obtain great performance from such tools is still resource-constrained.

     

    You are correct in observing that the new generation prefers
    decisions by consensus, yet the actual socialization of businesses has a long
    way to go before most will agree that the consensus process is thoroughly
    supported by their leadership (C-suite) and authorities (HR, Finance, and
    Legal).

     

    Brandon Russell’s survey into the definition of the millenial
    stands up well for a moment, but it crumbles when he opens his view of the role
    between heroics and respect.  He asserts
    that the millenial is defined by a hero “archetype” that places a
    deep trust in authority.  Millenials
    neither adhere to, nor behave as, nor claim to identify with this definition.

     

    Mr. Russell might have done a better job elaborating on this
    fantasy.  Regardless of how he might
    reposition his framing of the millenial soul, ask yourself “What millenial
    hero fits this mold?”  Both Joseph
    Campbell and Karl Jung would have called “the hero’s deep respect for
    authority” a non-sequitur. 
    “The Heroes Journey” is made from stronger stuff.  Examine the millennial hero archetypes
    represented by Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, or the Mutant Ninja Turtles.  They feared authority, and put on the happy
    face as a survival mechanism.  The
    visible gestures of respect that they showed to the figures of authority bought
    them the time and resources needed to defeat the leadership that they
    distrusted.

     

    While I will be interested in reading the sources of Mr.
    Russell’s hero definition, I see that others have made their own efforts in
    this subject.

     

    At the Comic Con San Diego in 2009, Daniel Debowy describes
    the Millenial Generation Hero as one who avoids traditional conflict with the
    prior generation as the route to advancing real change.  http://www.liheliso.org/2009/08/09/millennial-generation-hero-interview-with-daniel-debowy-m-d-ph-d/

     

    However, avoiding traditional conflict is only a feigned
    trust in authority, an immediate tactic to postpone battle until one is better
    equipped to and confident in one’s ability to defeat one’s opponent or former
    authority at the moment of one’s choosing. 
    Kinda Machiavellian. 
    Kinda Ninja or Art of War.

     

    Ask any millenial:

    who the authorities are that they put the most trust
    in.  They will tell you that authorities
    are more likely to be the villains who they distrust.  .

    how they feel being labelled or defined with the
    “Hero” archetype, and you may be surprised by how the conversation
    turns back onto the labeller or the person defining the term.

     

    For a contemporary discussion of
    who the Millenial archetype is, look at the Marvelous Millennial Wine Marketing Circus at Sebastiani on May 17th,
    2012 (or one of the same meetings elsewhere in California that week).  The panel will discuss with the community
    the hopes, the dreams and the expectations of the Millenials.  A good deal of discussion is taking
    place in anticipation of this event. 
    Questions are being asked about the extent to which businesses are going
    to entertain, amuse, show a fun time to, be likable towards, stimulate the
    creativity of, cultivate the emotional level of engagement with, and be
    provocative toward the socially-connected millenial customer.  

     

    The panel (as
    well as a most thoroughly engaged audience) will grapple with how millenials
    influence the customer relationship space of enterprises through their
    immediate interactions with each other in the tribal/online/IRL communities
    where they are most socially active. 
    It’s already apparent that the B2C approaches which are more empathetic
    with the millenials (among those businesses progressing in their paths toward
    becoming social businesses) are gaining mindshare as well as marketshare with
    the millenials.  Such brands that
    connect with the Milennial mindset are not trusted authorities, but rather are
    viewed by those connected consumers as partners or welcomed participants in
    their communities.  For a closer view,
    see Mutineer Magazine’s blog:  http://www.mutineermagazine.com/blog/2012/04/the-big-top-comes-to-town-mutineer-magazines-marvelous-millennial-wine-marketing-circus-is-coming-to-a-town-near-you/