Parents active on social media may be tempted to connect with their kid’s teacher on online forums. But would that blur the professional and personal boundaries? We look at the pros and cons
By Sahana Charan
Priya often goes to her daughter’s school to help as a volunteer at events and school meets. As she shared a cordial relationship with her 12-year-old’s class teacher, Priya sent her a friend request on Facebook.The teacher accepted reluctantly. Now, every time the teacher posts her thoughts or shares pictures, Priya is tempted to peek and make comments. If the teacher is out on a school night, Priya wonders, “She was partying last night, she must be tired in school. Will she be able to concentrate on teaching the students?”
Priya also queried the teacher about her daughter’s performance and behaviour in school. The teacher found this an invasion of her personal space and asked the mother to connect with her only at school meets.
Looking at the above scenario, would it be a good idea to befriend your child’s teacher on social media or would it be better to maintain a strict professional relationship that does not go beyond the school? Read on and decide for yourself.
Social media is a vital part of our communication with peers and loved ones. It is not only an important tool for personal exchange, but also used by communities and forums to share information, post official messages and so on. While most of us are captivated by the instant connect that social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook provide, a few others do lament the lack of face-to-face interactions. Social media helps break down walls, but it also creates a false perception of camaraderie.
According to the Global Web Index, people regularly using the Internet have an average of seven social media accounts. Facebook’s own reports say that an average user spends as much as 50 minutes on the platform.
So, it is not unusual for parents to come across the teacher on the platform and be tempted to send a friend request. But look before you leap, say experts.
Dr Anita Gautam, Director, Clinical Operation and Consultant Psychiatrist at Gautam Hospital and Research Center, Jaipur, makes these observations:
"Most schools have rules prohibiting teachers from sharing their phone numbers with parents. These days, you have some parents who are over-anxious and constantly bug teachers with queries about their children. This could easily spill onto the social network space and then it can get uncomfortable. There could be arguments and judgements passed on social media. That is why, most schools do not encourage social networking between parents and teachers,” - Ruth Anand, educationist.
Despite the many arguments against social media connect between parents and teachers, there are some who believe it could be beneficial. Instead of mixing the personal with the professional, social networking may give a parent the opportunity to be more empathetic towards her child’s teacher. “It eliminates the fear of the unknown. We realise that they are also human like us,” is how one parent puts it.
Considering that social media has the potential of being a great communication vehicle, could it facilitate a better understanding between parents and teachers?
Some parents agree. “Personally, I do not see any harm in befriending my child’s teacher on Facebook. In fact, I have a cordial relationship with my children’s teachers and most of them are my friends on Facebook. It is a great way of getting information about the various programmes that happen in school, as the teachers often post pictures of the events. We can stay updated on the goings on in the school, but we should be careful not to be too intrusive. The teachers’ also post valuable links that can be helpful for parents,” says Aparna Rao, mother of a 16-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy.
If a parent has befriended a teacher on FB, here are some dos and don’ts:
With inputs from Dr Debarati Halder, a cyber law specialist.
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