Facebook. Love it or hate it, social networking through the world wide web is here to stay. You can get Linkedin or Stumble Upon a bunch of stuff. You can add de.lic.ious to your profile or simply Digg it. I get a headache just thinking about all the ways people can reach out and connect with one another. Oh- I forgot My Space….among the myriad of other networking sites available today.
Today’s post, however, is dedicated to Facebook. I admit it- I love Facebook. I use it all the time to keep in touch w/friends and family. I also use it to communicate with people regarding my blog, speaking engagements and my book. It’s a fun way for me to reach out, and while others want to keep as much of their lives private as possible, I have really enjoyed reacquainting myself with former friends and colleagues.
So herein lies my dilemma. I now have current/former students and nieces/nephews sending me friend requests. This is where it gets sticky. I have a general policy that I do not allow people under the age of 18 to be my friends. I do this because I believe it is vital that educators keep a healthy distance from their students. While living in Florida, a week didn’t go by without some splashy headline about a female teacher who had been caught in a sexual relationship w/one of her students or a male teacher who was caught trading grades for sex. Ewww!
With regards to my nieces and nephews, I also want to maintain a buffer zone. I do not want them knowing too much about my personal life…outside of what they see at family gatherings and on vacation. I feel this way because I am in a position to influence their lives and perhaps, some of their future decisions. I believe that children need to understand that there is a difference between adults and kids- that we’re not on the same level and that no, they CANNOT call me by my first name. In fact, while I’m on the subject, I don’t think that children should ever call adults by their first name. There, I said it. However, I digress.
What I’d really like is to hear from you, both parents and educators. Do I really have a dilemma, or should I just loosen up? Am I being overly dramatic? Old fashioned? What is your policy for social media? Do you have one at all?