Sunday, August 8, 2010

Teachers and Social Media: Dos and Don'ts

As technology continues to evolve and encroach upon every facet of our daily lives, the line between public and private spheres turns more and more gray. And with new social networks popping up every day, it seems almost impossible to keep your private life truly private anymore. As a teacher, and a normal human being, where does the classroom end and your real life begin? Can you truly keep your personal life separate from the professional atmosphere of your school life? Are you always a teacher, and never a person? Or are you able to distinguish and keep isolated your two different social worlds? Are you able to trudge the fine line separating what you deem private and what you deem public?

Making sure you adhere to a few simple guidelines regarding online interactions can keep you and your personal life safe from prying eyes. Consider the following three suggestions for protecting yourself in the world of social media, and you'll keep the line between your public and private lives distinct.
  1. Double check your privacy settings. Within most social networks on the internet – Facebook, MySpace, Twitter – you control the privacy settings of your personal account. This function allows you to choose who you want and who you don't want to view your personal profile. Take extra care when reading through these options and be sure to choose one that allows you to maintain your freedom within the confines of your personal account without having to make certain compromises for certain audiences. You can even choose to only allow those you're friends with to see your profile, insuring that students, parents, and administrators don't have access to your personal account and information.
  2. Be careful who you add. Friend requesting is the easiest thing to do on most of these social networks. Anyone – from friends and family to students and coworkers – can locate you and request to be your friend by simply typing in your name. Don't add anyone who you don't want seeing your personal account. If you've already adjusted your privacy settings, then those who aren't your friends won't be able to access your profile. This is probably the most integral part of maintaining that line between personal and professional. After making sure to mark your profile private, only allow your closest friends and family to have access to view your account. This is the true purpose of the social media, anyway, functioning as a convenient way to communicate with those you ordinarily wouldn't be able to.
  3. Don't go phishing. Identity theft and scams are one of the biggest issues surrounding these social networks. It's all too easy for random strangers to collect your personal information by tricking you into giving away personal information – usernames, passwords, credit card numbers – by dragging you to outside websites and promising you Ipods if you finish thirty surveys. These phishing scammers can easily collect all your private information and create profiles and accounts using your own identity, impersonating you for all the world to see and leaving your reputation and integrity vulnerable to scrutiny and defamation.
Carol Montrose is a writer for Online MBA Rankings where you can browse the top online MBA programs.