Recentabuses of social media have necessitated the creation of policyguidelines by state legislatures and board of education in districtschools to react to concerns about use of social media to bully,harass and make inappropriate sexual relations with high schoolchildren. In the US, school districts are those schools which arecontrolled by the local government as well as the state. Currentlythere are about 15,000 school district, although this number isexpected to reduce due to high property taxes. This paper willevaluate the merits and demerits of social media use in schooldistricts.
Itis clear that the merits of using social media in school district inthe United States far outweigh the demerits. Hence, there is a needfor learning institutions to update their policies to provideguidance on how tools of social media should be used to improveteaching and learning. Social media refers to a set of applicationsfor digital devices that allow creation and transfer of usergenerated content (COSA,2012).Social sites are defined as online platforms that enable interactivecommunication between individuals and organizations on socialnetworks. They include websites, internet forums, blogs and microblogs, wikis and application software (MadisonMetropolitan School District, 2012).
Thereare various legislations which guide the use of social media inschool districts. One of the major legislation is the, Children’sInternet Protection Act enacted in the year 2000. It was meant toaddress some of the major concerns that had educators and legislatorsabout children’s welfare when using social media (Zarra, 2013).More specifically the Act was supposed to protect children from sexpredators and bully in online sites. A few decades ago after the lawhas been enacted, educators, legislators and parents face a differentdigital media problem from what existed in at the beginning of the21st century (PottvilleArea School District, 2011).
Schooldistrict have the right, but not the obligation to review, inspectand retain electronic communication stores, sent, created, receivedand sent over the schools system. This enables district schools tomonitor, track, and access, inspect and record CIS systems Inaccordance with established laws and regulations. The same applies topersonal computers and other electronic gadgets used within theschools premises (Heron-Hruby, In Landon-Hays & Palgrave Connect,2011). Also in accordance with the law many school district haveprohibited use of social media in private conversation between ateacher and students. This policy is geared towards eliminatinginappropriate relations and contacts between members of the staff andstudents (Hall, 2013). It is also aimed at keeping all social mediacontacts professionals and for educational purposes only.Nonetheless, many schools have not made a distinction between privateand school based platforms (Weber, 2010). Teachers are allowed to useprivate sites such as twitter and Facebook to carry out educationbusiness but if inappropriate relations with students are detecteddisciplinary measures are taken. State legislature has also passedvarious legislations aimed at improving child protection while usingsocial media sites. In Missouri, teacher are forbidden from creatingand using a ‘’non work’’ online site that allows exclusivecontact with current or former students (Austin & Hunter, 2013).As for the parents, they are required to ensure that, students areeffectively advised prior to joining any social media sites. Further,parents should ensure that, students are only contacted for officialpurposes only by the teachers or any other district employee.
However,it is worth noting that, although these policies guiding the staffs,parents, students and other stakeholders, majority of them have notbeen effective. This is due to the fact that, there has been lack ofpolicies aimed at monitoring the effectiveness of social media use inschool districts, especially those analyzing and tracking statisticson how social media is used.
Forinstance, there is the need to track the communication which takesplace between the teachers and the students, thus ensuring that, thecommunication between these parties is only based on academicpurposes.
Generally,school district that allow social media within their premises andespecially during classroom teaching and learning should makedeliberate efforts to provide succinct and clear policies forstudents, teachers and parents so that social media can improvelearning processes. Additionally, there is a need to make adistinction between professional and personal uses, make out whatstandards social media should address and how it will improveteaching and learning.
Austin,R.and Hunter,B. (2013). OnlineLearning and Community Cohesion: Linking Schools.Routledge Pub.
COSA.(2012).SchoolDistrict Policies Concerning Mobile Technologies and Social Media.Retrieved 11 June, 2014, from:http://www.nsba.org/sites/default/files/reports/MakingProgress.pdf
Hall,J. (2013). Children`shuman rights and public schooling in the United States.Rotterdam: SensePublishers.
Heron-Hruby,A., In Landon-Hays, M., & Palgrave Connect (Online service).(2014). Digitalnetworking for schoo+l reform: The online grassroots efforts ofparent and teacher activists.
MadisonMetropolitan School District.(2012). SocialMedia and Digital CommunicationGuidelinesfor Staff. Retrieved11 June, 2014, from:https://www.madison.k12.wi.us/social-media-guidelines
PottvilleArea School District.(2011).Social Media Policy.Retrieved11 June, 2014, from:http://www.pottsville.k12.pa.us/cms/lib07/PA01916599/Centricity/Domain/38/Social%20Media%20Policy%20-%20Students.pdf
Weber,K. (2010). Waitingfor Superman: A participant media guide.New York: PublicAffairs.
Zarra,E. J. (2013). Teacher-studentrelationships: Crossing into the emotional, physical, and sexualrealms.