Facebook and Your School

Facebook is a social networking site that allows people to communicate and stay in touch with each other. It is a great way to find out the latest news about your friends or to stay informed regarding issues that are important to you. There are many reasons that Facebook is useful, but should your school have a Facebook account?

I believe Facebook, when used properly, is a wonderful way for keeping students and parents updated on school events and information throughout the school year. The nice thing about having an account is that you can create a page where others can become a fan. Post updated information, but do not allow others to make comments. This can cause chaos and problems for the school. Also, do not allow anyone to send private messages. Turn these features off, and use your school Facebook page as a simple news page for students, parents, and faculty.

Social networking and social media are used widely by the younger generation around the world. There is much debate about the right age to start having a Facebook page but there seems little doubt that by the time students enter high school a large percentage of them have their own Facebook page and are confident about managing their profiles and sharing information. This is the context in which teachers and administrators have to make a choice about how the school deals with Facebook.

Facebook is a social media and networking site that is based on the premise that interacting with friends and family is a lot easier when each person has everyone they know listed in one place. So, sharing information about the latest movie that you saw or the concert that is happening next week becomes a lot easier - by making one entry the message can go out to a lot of people. The way Facebook works, friends and friends of friends get to see the information fairly immediately. There is a great sense of a global, virtual village. So, even if people have busy lives they can feel connected to friends because they feel caught up with news and can stay up to date with each other lives.

Now how does all this work for an educational institution? What is the place of social networking in the context of a school? Should students be allowed to access social networking sites while at school? Should the school have a presence of Facebook? And what should the school's policy be about information shared on Facebook? The questions are endless and there are no pat answers. The truth is many schools are coming to terms with how to deal with Facebook and the legal issues will get sorted out as usage continues to increase. But there is no excuse for a school to not spend some thought on this issue as it cannot be ignored or denied.

Broadly speaking, it seems like a good idea to have a Facebook page for the school and to use it for public announcements. It is great way to talk the language of the students and have an official and controlled presence that can bring together students, parents, teachers and administrators.

Experts also believe that it is inadvisable for students to be allowed Facebook access while at school. Social media and networking sites may end up replacing face-to-face socializing and that is not in the best interest of a developing child. There is also the concern that it will distract students from the process of education. So, by and large schools block Facebook access.

The other issue that schools have to contend with in the context of Facebook is that students are sometimes posting things on this site which are problematic. There are cases of cyber-bullying and sexual harassment, which while not happening at school are happening to the school community. So, parents are seeking the help of schools in negotiating with the trouble-makers or in dealing with these problems. Schools are unclear about their legal position in these matters and are left feeling that they should be doing something but without a clear idea of their extent of authority or influence.

Facebook promises to be an interesting tool for enhancing the social presence and sense of community of a school. However, schools will have to learn to navigate around some pitfalls while finding their place in this social networking world.

Facebook and Schools Insights From Other Web Sites

  1. 85% of College Students use FaceBook - They spent how much money on research to figure out that one?
  2. A Simple Guide To Set Up Your School On Facebook - Creating a Facebook page for your school or college isn't as simple as it is when you're just creating a personal page.
  3. Get your kids off Facebook, principal tells parents - Anthony Orsini, principal of the Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, N.J., is clearly concerned about the children his school is accommodating.
  4. Hey, kids! Hate school? Don't tell Facebook! - The First Amendment right to insult one's school increasingly challenged.
  5. How Websites like Facebook and Twitter can Revolutionize your School Nutrition Program - Learn about key social media sites, including how to sign up, how they work, and what they are used for.
  6. Facebook and privacy - is your school helping students to understand privacy settings?
  7. The Facebook Classroom: 25 Facebook Apps That Are Perfect for Online Education - If you use it, these are pretty helpful.