Recently a school district in California hired a company to monitor their student’s social media. The firm is looking at public posts for red flags searching for possible violence, drug use, bullying, truancy and suicidal threats.
This issue falls on whether this is a free speech concern, an invasion of privacy or is it ethical at all?
HuffPostLive had a recent discussion about this topic that I find very interesting. With Cyberbullying Expert and co-Founder of Cyberbullying Research Center, Dr. Justin Patchin and Cyberwise co-Founder, Diana Graber, they brought up valid points that I initially didn’t consider.
Although I believe the monitoring system is one that could potentially prevent an unfortunate incident, or possibly give the school a heads up if there is a child in danger. I also believe that free speech doesn’t condone abuse, hate speech, libel, harassment or other online abuse. As far as privacy is concerned — it has been my mantra that people need to start remembering:
We should all treat the Internet as if there were no such thing as privacy. Any email, tweet, picture, social media post, or text has the distinct possibility of being made public.
However back to Dr. Patchin and Diana Graber, they reminded us that this monitoring system should not be used as an excuse not to educate our students on cyber-civics — or should we say — cybersafety and how to be upstanders both online and off.
As they said, we can’t allow parents to believe that since the school implemented a system for $40,000.00 that the problem will be resolved. It isn’t that simple, and never will be.
The need for education, social awareness and resources could never be more needed than today. As we recently learned of Rebecca Ann Sedwick that was bullied both online and off by more than a dozen classmates, it is obvious we need more in-service education on cyberbullying.