The problem, to some extent, is that social media breaks down the walls between what was a previously clear distinction between "on-campus" and "off-campus" activities, said Montana Miller, an associate professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and an expert in social media and Internet ethics.
To Dr. Miller
, there is no situation in which students under 18 should be Facebook friends with their teachers.
"The student may not realize that by friending their teacher, they are revealing details about their home life that the teacher may feel compelled to judge," she
"The teacher is in an impossible position once they have access to that kind of private activity."
Even among her
college students, Dr. Miller
has been put in uncomfortable positions.
students that while she
prefers to keep her
student interactions off Facebook and she
never "friends" any of her
will accept friend requests from them.
then gives a lecture about the hazards of using Facebook.
Despite those warnings, she
regularly finds herself in "tricky dilemmas" about what she
sees on Facebook.
But with minor students and their teachers, Dr. Miller
sees particular problems.
A teacher who can no longer judge a student fairly after seeing profane comments, for example, or a student who complains bitterly about the unfairness of a test.
"The problem is that it shatters this boundary that has to be there when a minor is in the position of being powerless under this teacher who can really affect their entire lives," she
Where Ms. Miller
sees the problems inherent in social media, Frank LoMonte sees possibilities.