As of January 2016 there were 2.307 billion active social media users across the world, 10% more than in 2015. With so many users, and the majority of these being younger people, it was only a matter of time before social media became a part of education. It has recently been hailed as delivering the promise of new, socially engaged educational experiences for students. However, the use of social media in education raises many ethical issues.
Although all of the ethical issues raised by the use of social media in education pose a threat to both students and teachers, I found the most interesting moral matter to be the rise of cyber bullying and online harassment, particularly towards teachers.
Evidence indicates that one in five (21%) teachers have reported having derogatory comments posted about them on social media sites from both parents and children.
This shocking statistic from the Department of Education illustrates the extent of the issue of online harassment of educators by parents and pupils.
Although bullying is no less serious whether it is done face-to-face or via a social network, cyber-disinhibition results in pupils and parents disregarding the consequences of their online actions. Dealing with such cyber-disinhibition also proves a difficult issue because there is a lack of education about social media morals and ethics.
A study by UK teachers’ union NASUWT, highlighted how parents are using social media websites such as Facebook to post sexist, racist and homophobic comments about their children’s teachers.
Such an epidemic is sure to have a negative effect on the future uses of social media in education. Frieson and Lowe have predicted that social media will become integral in engaging students in their educational experiences and it is already a great tool for communication and feedback amongst pupils. However, such cyberbullying threatens the future of social media in education.
The responsibility of preventing and dealing with cyberbullying, both of pupils and teachers, doesn’t just lie with the parents. However, the mounting adoption of technology in schools is shifting the responsibility for online harassment towards educators. Are schools really ready for the associated dangers of increased social media use in education?
Schools and educational institutions can take measures to prevent and deal with cyberbullying through education and support.
Education about social media is essential for overcoming not only cyberbullying but also the other ethical issues raised by increased social media use in schools.
Word Count: 359 words
We Are Social (2016) Digital in 2016 [Accessed 24/04/2016]
Friesen, N & Lowe, S (2010) The questionable promise of social media for education: connective learning and the commercial imperative [Accessed 21/04/2016]
GOV.UK (2016) Government backs teachers against online abuse [Accessed 21/04/2016]
Williams, R (2010) Teachers suffer cyberbullying by pupils and parents [Accessed 21/04/2016]
Cassidy, S (2015) Teachers face a storm of bullying – by the children’s parents [Accessed 24/04/2016]
Henderson, M, Auld, G & Johnson, N.F (2014) Ethics of teaching with social media [Accessed 21/04/2016]
GOV.UK (2016) Social media use [Accessed 21/04/2016]
Feature and ‘Right/Wrong’ image via Pixabay
‘Social Media Ethics’ created with Haiku Deck
‘How to Prevent and Deal with Cyberbullying’ created with Piktochart