The latest social networking prohibitionI have previously started groups about topics like whether Facebook and MySpace are OK for classroom use, and this one is similar, but asks an entirely...

The latest social networking prohibition

I have previously started groups about topics like whether Facebook and MySpace are OK for classroom use, and this one is similar, but asks an entirely different question:

My school recently sent out an email prohibiting teachers from being "friends" with students, present or former, on sites such as Facebook and MySpace. The phrase used was something like "questionable ethical responsibility."

Is this a valid argument, or should teachers go the extra mile to connect with their students on any level possible? One student from a school I previously taught at is a "friend" of mine on one such site, though I rarely hear from him other than an occasional update.

So, the question remains: Is it OK to be social network "friends" with students, or does that fall into the realm of unprofessionalism? Your thoughts are appreciated...

Expert Answers
jessecreations eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would not befriend any current students.  My husband (also a teacher) got into trouble for allowing a student to friend him on Facebook, and the issue of "poking" came into play, and he got called into the office for it.  Of course the claim was ridiculous, but so are many things these days.

 I do friend former students, who are approximately 10 years younger than I am.  I want to keep in touch with some of these students because they were some of the best kids I ever taught, and it gives me hope to remember that students like that really do exist.  Also, I try to keep my Facebook page relatively professional and fun, without inappropriate content.  As teachers, we have to watch for that anyway.

My last district didn't want us to have MySpace or Facebook pages at ALL, so I took extra precautions to disguise myself by keeping my profile private and hiding my full name and real photos, etc.

Either way, I think it's a bad idea to befriend your students.  If they need to contact you outside of school, let them use e-mail which is more professional and regularly monitored.  Wait to "friend" them after they graduate.

tpisano eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I also have mixed feelings about this. I think there are many ways to use these sites that the children love.  I actually created a myspace page for "Ponyboy Curtis".  I included quotes, assignments, links to information, etc. on the page.  They had to guess what character profile I made based on clues I gave them in class, friend that character, and then answer questions as a part of an extra credit project. They loved it.  That site is still up and those students, who I taught three years ago, still are my "friends" online and message me when they need assistance or to tell me things.  I see no problem with this.

However, I can see this causing trouble in certain situations.  If a person's actions are questionable, these sites may be a good resource for them to use. In my opinion those who have questionable motives will find ways to pursue their goals without these websites.

Jen Sambdman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I feel your pain. I am on both facebook and myspace but both of those profiles are hidden. I do not friend my current students nor will I until they are well into their late 20's. I am only 25 so a lot of my college days are posted on my facebook account and I find it inappropriate for my kids to see their teacher at not her 'best' if you will. However, because I know my kids are so into facebook, I have actually been going back and forth about creating a 'classroom' facebook account where the goings-on of the class are the subject of the account and it would also be a fun way for the kids to keep up on assignments (have the feed be Miss S is: hoping her kids make good choices this weekend!) I can definitely understand why your administration said you cannot friend any students. Like the aforementioned posts have said: you are their teacher, not their friend.

alohaspirit eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Do not use myspace or facebook for social interaction with your students, it is highly inappropriate, and take you down a road you do not want to go down.  If you want more communication with students and parents build a teacher website or a blog through a teacher website.  You relationship with your students should be absolutely only professional, and not friendly.  Myspace and facebook are used for social networking, we are not social networking with our students. Plus do you really want to see whats on their pages?Then you will start to judge and have that in the back of your mind.  Let them have their private life and let teachers have their private life, it should never mix.  Go to, you can build a teacher website for FREE!

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm on Facebook, but am unfamiliar with MySpace. I would not "friend" any current students; my oldest former students are only college age. I would not consider "friending" any of them unless they were well into adulthood, and we became friends for some other reason first. The biggest potential problem I see is that you have no control over what another of your friends posts to your site, and something you would rather not have people know could very well come out before you are aware it is up there. There is also the possibility you could find out something about a student that you really have no business knowing. Connecting with students is important, but in my opinion there are enough other ways to do so.

mthibodeau eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would never "friend" a current student on a social networking site as I believe that is a breach of the student-teacher contract.  I am not their friend, I am their teacher.  However, I do accept friend requests from my former students, who are now in college.  I don't seek them out, but if someone finds me and adds me, I will accept it.  I do see the argument that I can't control what my friends may post, but I trust the adult discretion of my actual friends to not post anything inappropriate.  I also don't "friend" random adults, but rather only the people I'm really friends with in real life, so I can make that judgment.

slchanmo1885 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would never befriend any of my current students, but strangely enough, on the flipside, I am friends with one of my own high school teachers on a social networking site. I befriended him online when I was in college (several years after he was my teacher) and we still keep in touch. But I would be extremely careful how much personal information students have access to in these sites. The internet is a tool, and social networking sites, like most internet sites, can be used well or can be used badly. We must maintain a professional relationship with our students, and not cross any lines.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a very good question. I'm on the fence about this issue. I like the idea of connecting with students outside of the classroom. However, once we can never let our guard down. You can think a student idolizes you, but the minute you make that student angry or do something he or she doesn't like, and that student will turn on you. I can imagine all sorts of worst-case scenarios. The best policy is to stay away from myspace and similar web sites.

cburr eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have mixed feelings about this.  I have had some great contacts with current students online.  It helps that I'm a married older woman with grown kids, and so no one's worried about anything inappropriate.  

I think IM is the best way to go for online contact, since kids can't get any other information about you through IM.  If you want a classroom site, open something in Google sites or something.   

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not use facebook for current students, although I have some former students on there.  My page is pretty tame, but I do not think it is really appropriate.  There are other school-appropriate ways of interacting with students online, such as through message boards, blogs and nings.