Teachers and students are baffled by a new piece of Missouri legislation that calls for an end of teacher Facebook use in the state. To be clear, teachers can still have Facebook accounts; they simply cannot “friend” current or past students.
Most are left wondering what this exactly entails. Does it stand for past students spanning ten years or more? Does it include college professors, or retired teachers? Having friended a good dozen or so teachers myself, am I breaking the law, even though I graduated a decade ago, and I finished my undergraduate studies in 2006?
The bill is aimed at protecting students from being harmed by sexual predators, but that is problematic in and of itself. Isn’t the fact that sexual predators are in the classroom much more disturbing than the fact that they are on Facebook—and shouldn’t we be more worried about that rather than students being on Facebook?
Children’s social networking habits should be monitored by their parents, not by the schools or the law. And though this law isn’t limiting their use of networks but that of teachers, it’s not exactly preventing anyone from being preyed upon. On the contrary, it seems like a silly waste of money and time. How about spending a bit more time checking out your teachers before letting them be around students, Missouri?
And if we really wanted to protect students from predators, maybe we would make a law where people only 18 and up can use Facebook to begin with, and a separate network could be made for younger people. (This, to me, is age discrimination, and would separate me from many cousins, but it would make more sense.) Or how about a law where everyone who uses Facebook has to have a criminal background check before using the site? Again, maybe not the most constitutionally sound measure, but something that makes more sense in light of what is attempting to be accomplished.
And if teachers were truly allowed to be, well, teachers, or the mentors they’re supposed to be, wouldn’t connecting them via Facebook be helpful rather than harmful? I know that connecting with my old teachers has proven to be enlightening; we share news information and quotes that come handy in both their teaching and my writing, for example.
Most of us are unsure as to how this law is being implemented, enforced, and interpreted, but it will be interesting to see how it works out. Further technological laws are being implemented in the state as well. A fire department in Jefferson County, Missouri, for example, is working on a rule that bans firefighters from contacting people they save on Facebook or Twitter, or texting them. Apparently there have been cases of them sending messages such as “I saved ur life 2night. Want 2 go out w/ me?” Yeah, that sort of kills the whole hot firefighter image we’ve got in our heads and replaces it with potential stalker, doesn’t it? Whatever happened to a simple phone call or, God forbid, a face-to-face conversation?