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Moral, Ethical, and Legal Issues Surrounding Social Media In the Classroom

Social media is by far one of the most popular words now a days, especially in a classroom. Students of all ages are singing up for accounts on all sorts of platforms and are eager to discuss the latest trends. Many teachers (and other adults) also have social media accounts. In an attempt to continue to engage students, some teachers have been trying to find ways to bring social media in to the classroom, but should we be concerned?

One thought that immediately pops into everyone’s minds when they hear about issue with youth and technology or social media is cyberbullying. According to Bullying Canada, cyberbullying involves “using the internet or text messaging to intimidate, put-down, spread rumours or make fun of someone.” Cyberbullying is on issues that is very well documented in the media (take Amanda Todd or Megan Meier for example). Although most cyberbullying primarily happens outside of school, it can still happen anytime students have access to technology which could include when students are able to be on their phones or computers at school during work or lunch time.

Henderson, Auld & Johnson present that “while risks such as cyberbullying have been well documented, and are addressed through numerous cybersafety initiatives, there are a range of other professional dilemmas in using social media in the classroom which have not been explored in detail.” Note that the authors state that the term social media does not only including social netowrking sites such as Facebook, they are also referring to blogs and forums, as well as video and photo sharing platforms. These issues mentioned in the article include: consent, confidentiality, boundaries, and recognizing/responding to illicit activity. Henderson et al. bring up quite a few points to consider regarding these issues:

  • Consent
    – Do we as teachers have consent for students to be posting to any sort of social media platform at school?
    – Do students, especially younger students, have a complete understanding of the long term implications to posting online?
    – Are students able to perceive the full context of what is being read or posted on social media?
  • Confidentiality/Traceability
    – Using socially media is typically asking that students post in a public or semi-public way. Are we able to promise students that their digital footprint will not leave the classroom context?
    – By encouraging students to post online are we solidifying their future digital identity?
  • Boundaries
    – Are teachers sharing things they shouldn’t be on social media where students are able to see them?
    – Are students able to seek out and openly find teachers’ personal content on social media platforms?
    – What risks of public scrutiny come along with teachers having either public or private social media platforms?
  • Recognizing/responding to illicit acitvity
    – What issues exist in connection to copyright in regards to students posting online?
    – How are teachers able to intervene/know if there has been things such as a copyright violation, an edit in someone’s post etc?
    – What responsibility does a teacher have in reporting students due to issues similar to the ones mentioned above?

All and all, these four issues raised in the article by Henderson et al. are very thought provoking. It is difficult, if not impossible, for teachers to answer all of the above questions. The authors state that “guidelines for teaching practice nor codes of conduct are wholly adequate in addressing these issues. This is partly due to the continually changing landscape of social media, and partly due to the fact that some of the issues, such as the ethics of colonizing student social spaces, are simply not directly addressed.” They suggest that dialogue among students and teachers is the best way to create a foundation for expectations of social media use in a classroom.

4 thoughts on “Moral, Ethical, and Legal Issues Surrounding Social Media In the Classroom

  1. Interesting post, indeed. To be completely honest, I haven’t used social media in the classroom for issues such as the ones raised above. Because I have dealt with many issues in the classroom surrounding kiddos and social media, I haven’t been able to bring myself to use it in the classroom. I know some people that have used it in the classroom and say that they haven’t had issues, however, I am still not ready to try it out at this point. I wonder how other people feel that have used it as well as those that are resistant to using it, and how feel. It definitely makes for an interesting conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, I don’t feel the need to try and integrate social media in my classroom, especially with the age group I have. Since they are under 13 anyways, most of them shouldn’t legally be on these social media platforms to begin with. I think the only thing we use that could be considered social media would be google classroom, although we only use it to post and turn in a few select assignments.


  2. Interesting post! As someone who just came out of ECI831 with Alec, this conversation is similar to the contemporary issues we face in schools that are discussed in that class. I have used social media in my classroom because of that course, but also through blogging and group chats for novel studies etc and Snapchat for sharing science lab pictures in the past. To be honest, it is challenging to give up control and allow students to work on a platform, but creating that sense of normalcy with social media had students feeling more comfortable using it. I allowed them to create pseudonyms and post their content as their “character.” We did not encounter any issues of misuse or cyberbullying and it opened up a tool that we can use in the future. The same goes for the use of Minecraft in class… many people hear that and immediately think that it is just playing games, but there are some educational factors to these apps that can be explored (if done correctly). We may never be able to stop cyber bullying (just like we have not stopped in-person bullying) but giving students the know-how and tools in their toolbox can also be beneficial and set students up for success.

    Thanks for a detailed and thought-provoking post!


  3. Great post! Before the pandemic I didn’t use social media or apps in my classrooms… during and after this I have started using apps such as Mentimeter, canvas and some microblogging apps. But, yes… I have never tried using Facebook, Instagram or even Snapchat in classrooms… I think it is challenging to use these applications as they have a wide range of distractions and as an educator, it is tough to regulate every activity a child does on his social media account…


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