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Should Schools Monitor Social Media?

By Bethaney Wallace | Small Business

Every month or so there’s a new headline covering a student suspended from school. Not for their behavior, for a violent threat, or even for their grades, but because of what they posted on social media. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. – students across the United States (mostly high schoolers), are being expelled for their actions posted on these sites.

In most cases, however, it can be argued that the statement was hardly worth a detention slip, let alone an entire suspension. For instance a Wichita, KS senior who compared his school’s sports university references to a nonexistent football team. Despite being the class president and entering his last weeks of school, the student was expelled, though he was still allowed to attend graduation.

Should Schools Monitor Social Media? image Screen shot 2013 05 20 at 10.32.59 AMShould Schools Monitor Social Media?

Another student posted the following tweet, “F****** is one of those f****** words you can put anywhere in a f****** sentence and it still f****** makes sense.” He too was expelled from school. Although full of cursing, it’s hard to argue that the tweet is incorrect. Inappropriate? Yes, but whatever happened to free speech?

If these students have Twitter accounts, personal ones (i.e. not linked to the school), shouldn’t they be free to post as they please?

Who Makes the Rules?Should Schools Monitor Social Media? image tweet rules 226x300Should Schools Monitor Social Media?

With all these questionable expulsions (the above are only two in a list of many), it raises a few questions about administration. Who’s deciding whether or not these tweets are punishment-worthy? Monitoring students’ social media presence can be a great idea when looking for threats or outside disturbances, but when did opinions become grounds for consequences?

And how are students to know what opinions will cause an uproar? Are they given a list of what’s considered inappropriate before the school year? Without said list, how are they to know what messages will or won’t expel them? We’d like to think it’d be common sense, but, at least on the end of the administration, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

An added factor seems to be the public’s reaction. For instance, the football-related tweet, which enraged the entire team. It wasn’t offensive or even incorrect; the student was suspended solely for “inciting a disturbance”. By the same logic, should students causing a scene for good grades or winning a sport receive punishment?

Rolling with the Times

Because the majority of the population didn’t have these social media outlets while in high school, we’re still in a transition period, where everyone’s learning to adjust. But what everyone seems to ignore is the lack of maturity. High schoolers are irrational, still-growing teenagers – they type, say, and post things they shouldn’t on a daily basis. Previously, a conversation with friends, letter, or journal entry was as far as these posts ever went. With social media, however, it’s public; never before were growing pains so permanent.

Whatever the inevitable solution, it’s time to educate the students and administrations on the severity of social media suspension; clearly the status quo isn’t working.

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