(MyFoxBoston.com) – With the rise in popularity of various social media platforms, many school officials are going online to monitor students, their conversations, their behavior, their interactions with other classmates – essentially, their lives outside of the classroom.
Passing notes and chatting between classes have been replaced by sites like Twitter and Facebook, but instead of secretive banters, the conversations are put out for the world to see.
The utility of social media as a monitoring device has taken center stage in Franklin where a high school teacher is facing serious allegations of misconduct. The allegations first came to light after another school staff member saw conversations on Twitter.
School faculty and administration admit they are using social media sites to not only communicate with students and parents, but also to find out what's being talked about and to search for possible warning signs.
"There's a better opportunity to find out things we wouldn't have found out before," Burlington Schools Asst. Superintendent Patrick Larkin told FOX 25.
Larkin said the number one way he keeps in touch with parents and students is through social media.
"I've been on Twitter for four years now, and I interact with educators from all over the world. But also, I interact with a lot of our students," Larkin said. "Social media has the ability to connect us with more relevant information about what's going on, what are the conversations about, our school, and what's happening. So why would you have this piece of information and not access it? I think it's a great resource."
When students are "Facebook-ing" and tweeting things they maybe shouldn't be, Larkin deals with it at school reminding students their profiles are visible to the world and asking them if this is how they really want to be portrayed.
If something illegal or allegations about a staff member are being talked about, school administrators are required to report the information to the proper authorities.
Some parents told FOX 25 they are glad to see schools getting involved while others parents said it was a violation of privacy.
Larkin said it is not about prying, but more about teaching kids how to use social media properly. He said some college admissions officers have told him they now search applicants to see if they can find anything inappropriate on social media sites.