School districts look for ways to embrace social media

Posted August 24, 2010

— It's the start of a new school year and with social media like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter reaching all ages, schools administrators are trying to find a balance in which those websites can be productive and safe.

“In order for students to be able to interface successfully within a global society, they're going to have to be able to utilize tools such as social media,” Johnston County Schools spokeswoman Terri Sessoms said.

In Johnston County, students and teachers are urged to use instead. It's an educational website that incorporates social elements like profiles, but keeps the conversation on school lessons and assignments.

“We feel very strongly about protecting the learning space,” Sessoms said of why Gaggle is preferred.

Still many students and staff also use external social media sites to communicate.

“It will be a good way to send them a quick message about a homework assignment,” parent Bobbie Watson said of the benefits.

Schools explore social media tools Schools explore social media tools

Watson closely monitors her eight-grade daughter's activity on Facebook. She said she also limits her interaction and doesn't know if teachers should be included in students' social network circles.

“I'm not really sure if I am comfortable with the teacher-student relationship on Facebook,” Watson said.

Sessoms said while there is no policy against it, they urge caution among staff when it comes to "friending" students.

“Whether it's virtual or real time, it is always about maintaining that professionalism and appropriate relationships with kids and their parents,” Sessoms said.

School administrators are also keeping an eye out for cyber-bullying. Students can be charged with a misdemeanor if they are caught harassing or threatening another student online.

While neither Johnston nor Wake County schools have policies governing social media behavior, administrators said that could soon change. For now, they say student and staff conduct codes cover many of the issues.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Coolbeans11 Aug 25, 2010

    With the poor attitude that "truth" has I'm sure his children are going to grow up to be judgmental, lazy, sloths who do nothing but blame others for their problems. It's clear he isn't involved at school (or home) or he wouldn't have so much time to spend on WRAL posting nonsense.

  • shortcake53 Aug 25, 2010

    youcant (and I see this to be true) for your info, I take and pick my child up from school, do homework WITH him, am in constant contact with his teacher and administrators and am a member of the PTA staff. Would you be happier if I slept there too?? What is your problem? YOU are one of the persons I would be protecting my child from by NOT letting him on the internet.

  • Remy Aug 25, 2010

    "They don't have time to take their own child to school or pick them up" youcanthandletruth
    I guess these kids you are speaking of just don't go to school huh? Or, just maybe there is something called a bus that comes right by their houses. Nothing to do today, so guess you just keep insulting others. Wow, what a great role model.

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Aug 25, 2010

    "No 8 yr old needs to be able to be contacted by anyone via the internet. "

    Well how's that going to work for the oodles of parents too lazy to pay attention? They don't have time to take their own child to school or pick them up, the beg for school on Saturday and holidays, anything so they don't have to be bothered. Have mercy we can't make them work at being a parent, that would just inconvenience them more. We can't have that. I got it, the kids all have cell phones once again to make mommy's life a little less busy, so just text the homework! Mommy or dad won't even have to leave their cozy couch.

  • MARX Aug 25, 2010

    Wake County does have policy per HR. Teachers are not allowed to be friends with students at their school on social networking sites.

    Fatchance - this already exists, it's called Blackboard.

  • wildcat Aug 25, 2010

    find a balance in which those websites can be productive and safe.

    Nothing is really safe on the websites. All kinds of people have use to them. Why not deal with the kids on a face-to-face basis. That would be the safe way. Its dangerous for kids to meet on the web. There are strangers lurking around up to no good and dangerous.

  • shortcake53 Aug 25, 2010

    My child has Parental Control on his computer and this will not be lifted. Teachers can use the "old fashioned" method to get notes sent home and assignments clarified. No 8 yr old needs to be able to be contacted by anyone via the internet. If the teacher needs info sent to our home, it can be sent to MY computer, not my childs.

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Aug 25, 2010

    "what say do they have?"

    You already answered your own question, they have 100% say, you don't!

  • twinkiemb Aug 25, 2010

    Here in Wake County if you are on a school team, such as cheerleading, you MUST have your coach as a friend or you will be kicked off the team, if they see anything they don't agree with you can be kicked off the team. This can be for pictures or language they find innapropriate. I do not agree with this. If something is going on after school, off school grounds, non school related what say do they have? I have seen stuff on the coaches page I do not find appropriate for my child to see. It is up to the parent not the school staff to approve of behavior after school and off school grounds. I have a letter from a teacher stating they are not there to be a parent but to teach so how does the school have a say in what my child does when not under their supervision?

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Aug 25, 2010

    school districts better look for ways to embrace over 1/2 a billion, that's right BILLION, in lost Bev funds come next year. social media is the least of your concerns.