How are Social Networks Complicating Schools

Without a doubt, social media such as Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized communication in modern times. As these Internet applications continue to grow in popularity, new complications in social situations have been an unfortunate result. For preteens and teenagers, the Internet's social media venues are the main avenue for gossip, chatter, dating, and information gathering, but also bullying.

Schools Grounds and Social Networks

In July 2007, the National School Board Association published their findings from surveys on various social networks to see how it impacted teenagers, parents, and school administration staff. Results showed that over fifty percent of schools surveyed in America restricted social media such as Facebook, AOL Instant Messenger, and Twitter accounts in school. Many schools have also set strict regulations on cellphone usage during school hours. However, with the growing popularity of smart Internet phones, school administrators have a difficult time regulating social media on school grounds. As a result, Facebook and Twitter grow in popularity and schools must be vigilant on what students are saying on the Internet.

Off-Site School Cyber-Bullying and Social Media

Last winter, the story of Phoebe Prince, 15, committing suicide due to cyber-bullying ignited a nationwide debate. The media asked if the high school, by not protecting her, should be held responsible for her death. As a result, questions were raised as to how schools should regulate Internet bullying. Unfortunately, this is a hard, complicated topic as the actual bullying occurs on the Internet and not on school grounds. In this particular tragedy, the harassers were expelled and charged with felonies. In other cases, schools have been sued under free speech laws for disciplining students for Internet bullying.

New Rules and Regulations

Many schools have had to adapt rules and regulations related to bullying and lewd behavior that occurs through social media. Parents are asked to sign a zero tolerance policy for bullying, gossip, or harassment towards students, no matter where it occurs. Severe penalties such as suspension and even expulsion have been chosen as the form of discipline given to any harassment of students on or off school grounds. These new policies make it impossible for parents to sue the school citing Free Speech laws.

Moving Ahead with Social Media

Whether we like it or not, social media has become a very relevant part of the lives of both children and adults. The best way to protect children is for parents to ensure nothing negative is happening with their little ones, and for schools to be able to extend their protection outside of school grounds. However, it is also important for schools to start to embrace social media and find out how to rather use the technology to educate and teach their students instead. At present there are a number of educational games available, and school applications in the making, both of which have had positive results so far.