Teens and children alike have become inseparable from social media. You cannot spot a teen or kid who is not present on social media. Most of them already have an account on Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram. What’s more, they prefer spending time on social media than any other activity.
The obsession with social media has increased to such an extent that now teens and children are using these platforms even in their schools. They are sitting in a class but instead of focusing on their subject, they are busy checking their Instagram feeds.
The endless use of social media at schools has become so common that the idea of schools monitoring social media of their students has started to germinate.
Several schools across America have now started monitoring their students’ social media accounts over the last few years. Since schools have started adopting monitoring solutions to keep track of students’ social media activity, the use of social media has been reduced to some extent. In fact, more schools are now adopting social media monitoring services.
However, while such precautionary measures and steps can be taken to keep students safe from the online threats lurking on the internet, they have also raised many ethical concerns about privacy.
This difference then inevitably leads to the ultimate question of the hour, should schools monitor social media accounts of their students? This is an interesting debate and it has got two schools of thought. In this post, we will look at both the thoughts to see whether or not schools monitoring social media is a good idea or a bad idea.
How Does Schools Monitoring Social Media Become a Good Idea?
While it’s true that students do not want schools keeping track of their social media accounts, monitoring their social media activity can actually help protect students from criminal or threatening behavior. For example, a monitoring software helped a school in Florida spark twelve police investigations back in 2015.
This software was used to scan for keywords to collect data from pubic posts uploaded by the students on their social media accounts. Based on that data, the software can gather information on serious issues like cyberbullying, suicide threats, and criminal activity.
As soon as that information is entered into the database, the school security can conduct thorough research to find out if more actions need to be taken. This is considered an important activity as it helps students stay away from cyberbullying which past studies have proved that it affects around 23 percent of children and teens.
The constant use of social media has given rise to several other issues like depression and suicide rates. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), suicide is the third leading cause of death among children aged between 10 to 14.
Many officials also believe that monitoring students’ social media activity can help prevent school shootings. If that proves to be right, it means that monitoring social media can help save a lot of lives, which is definitely worth considering.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that social media has become an essential part of our children’s daily routines. Since many children are teens are now sharing their opinions and other personal information online and keeping all the details public, it has become easier for schools to monitor their social media activity and detect potentially dangerous situations so they can prevent them in time.
Schools should seek help from technology if it helps them prevent dangerous situations and stop larger issues.
Why Schools Should Not Consider Monitoring Social Media?
As important as student safety is, there are also several problems that may occur when schools begin to monitor student’s social media activity. Monitoring software like Mobistealth can definitely help schools keep records of their student’s online activity but they can also have unintended consequences. We say this because sometimes gathering and storing student data can also be problematic.
Many schools do not have a set time limit for how long the student data can be stored in their systems, which brings into question what that information could be used for.
Another trouble with increased social media monitoring is that it could cause students, who are tech-savvy and social media experts, to further hide their private lives from parents and teachers. Increased internet monitoring could make them more careful about their private lives, unintentionally causing them to keep their private information at bay.
When schools begin to monitor students’ online activity, there can be an increase in ethical concerns about tracking a student’s location when they are not present in school. Children are not the school’s responsibility as soon as they step out of the campus. However, if the school continues to track them even after they have left the campus it could be seen as a direct invasion of privacy.
Even if the monitoring programs are helping schools to search through public posts, it could still lead the school’s staff and possibly police to keep an eye on the students.
The latest research shows that many children get hands on their first phone as soon as they turn 10 years old. At the moment, monitoring is only restricted to public information but if there’s no limit drawn to its extent, it could lead to monitoring private data as well.
Moreover, there is little evidence that supports how increased social media monitoring has helped in reducing social media addiction or preventing online threats on social media platforms.
Since most monitoring programs only scan for keywords, it is possible to receive false results that could waste the precious time of schools and parents. Such blunders might also lead to false accusations or convictions that could tarnish a student’s reputation or harm them for life.
Several schools have adopted social media monitoring software like Mobistealth to keep track of their student’s activity. While there are both merits and demerits of schools monitoring social media of students, there is no doubt that the practice is becoming popular with time. Only time will tell whether or not this practice has proved to be effective and there are any impactful implications that come with it.