LETTER: When students, teachers and social media collide

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New technology develops so quickly in our culture that rules and regulations governing their use often lag far behind. This seems to be the case with Facebook and Red Hook High school’s teachers and support staff.

My kids, and their friends, tell me that when teachers make “friend requests” on their Facebook pages, they are not comfortable denying them due to fear of an adverse effect it may have on their grade. They do not want to alienate any teacher so they feel obliged give in.

I have heard teachers defend this by saying that they can reach the students for clubs and rehearsals. But separate Facebook pages can be established for these activities. One does not have to intrude on the off-school social interaction of students to keep in touch.

I feel it is extremely important to allow adolescents a healthy amount of confidentiality. Without it there is no trust and no development of independent social skills.

In addition, there have been situations on Facebook where students like my son were scolded by their teachers for using profanity or behaving in a way that would not be acceptable in a classroom setting.

Profanity is a vital component of any language. It expresses what cannot be articulated politely. It is not a sword to be wielded on all occasions. Discretion must be used. But Facebook is not the same as church, classroom, or dinner at Grandma’s. I have no need of teacher’s imparting their morality on my children. My wife and I can handle that aspect of child rearing just fine.

Some states are creating legislation to ban teachers from students’ Facebook. Others already have. Perhaps it is time for Red Hook High School to be a leader on this issue and not just let the chips fall where they may.

David Lewis

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