Ethics and morals are often associated with the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles, and schools can provide important lessons in ethical thinking and action (Weinstein, 2009).
43% of students in grade 9-12 say social networking sites are the primary mode for communication with their friends. And hear this, at schools that ban mobile devices, 63% of students use them anyways (ascd,2011).
There are many ethical issues surrounding the use of social media in schools but one ethical issues raised I consider to be particularly significant is the issue on confidentiality/privacy. The terms ‘privacy‘ and ‘confidentiality‘ are commonly used interchangeably. They refer to freedom from damaging publicity, public scrutiny, unauthorized disclosure of one’s personal information.
Many children look up to adult figures including teachers for ethical guidance, but not many are setting a good example.
High profile cases include one in 2012 when teacher Elizabeth Scarlett, 50, was given an official reprimand by the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) for Facebook comments about drinking and partying which were then seen by her pupils (bbc, 2014). Privacy settings were not considered in such cases to prevent such bad influences to reach her students, costing her her reputation.
That said, social media opens the door to bias and judgements. A teacher may also look through a students’ social media and make judgements about them. Such judgements would then cloud the teacher’s judgements concerning grading and feedback to give the student, making it bias and unfair. One might also ask, “does an educator have the obligation to notify parents of their child’s activities online?”. A response raised says due to repeated exposure to social media, society will become more accepting of a range of different behaviours (altc, 2014). So would these increase the potential for clashes between the trust of teacher and student?
was seen as a particular source of problems in education due to the potential for leaked information and materials.
Just this year, social media tools such as WhatsApp and Facebook, were extensively used to share the photo of the leaked II pre-university chemistry question paper the night before examination (Bureau, 2016). Perhaps the students were just geniuses to be able to find such intel?
To conclude, when using social networking, the leap from real life to online “life” brings with it no clear boundaries, but rather questions as to the “extent of influence” an educator may have on a student.
As Stuart Williams from NUT Cymru says, “The guidelines are there, they could be a little bit more stringent” (BBC, 2014). The question is how do we tackle the issue of privacy?
Check out this video for some ideas.
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ascd. (2011). Students like social media. [online] Available at: http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/journals/policypriorities/pp_v17n04_infographic_pdf.pdf [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].
Weinstein, A. (2009). Ethics in the Classroom: What You Need to Know | Education.com. [online] Education.com. Available at: http://www.education.com/magazine/article/cheating-ethics/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].
BBC News. (2014). Teachers need ‘clearer’ social networking rules, unions say – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-26539243 [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].
Bureau, B. (2016). Social media used extensively to share leaked question paper: CID. [online] The Hindu. Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/social-media-used-extensively-to-share-leaked-question-paper-cid/article8395233.ece [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].
ALTC. (2014). Social media in education: ethical concerns. [online] Available at: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/blog/2014/07/social-media-in-education-ethical-concerns/#gref [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].