I just read this article, entitled, "Missouri Outlaws Student-Teacher Facebook Friendship." Again, it seems like these discussions about social media effects and applications seem to gravitate towards me. But, I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts. As new technologies develop, new laws sprout up governing the use of such technologies. Don't believe me? Is sexting inappropriate? Would making it illegal be an infringement of privacy? What about spam? Shouldn't it be protected under the 1st ammendment? What if the one doing the spamming resides outside the United States? I had the pleasure of exploring these topics a few semesters ago in my Media Law & Regulation class. Neat stuff, right?
Anyways, back to the article at hand. The new law will make it illegal for teachers to be "friends" with students on Facebook, Twitter, etc. My gut reaction is to be opposed to the law, in a handful of ways. The article points out that this law may be preventing students from getting help in one of the only ways they can. Children spend an increasing amount of time on the Internet and form social connections with others using email, chat, etc. Missouri legislators argue that the bill is intended to protect children from predatory teachers. What about students' relationships with their sports coaches or religious leaders? Is the problem predatory teachers? Or maybe is it parents who don't inform their kids on proper Internet behavior and what to watch for?
Fingerpointing aside, This is a step backwards. All signs are pointing towards social media's full integration into society, and yes, this means academia and educational institutions, too. Facebook can be a powerful tool, when used correctly. Again, I urge you to look at the Facebook page for A&S Wired Residential College. One can see an established relationship and means of communication and conversation between student, staff and faculty. Wired, the new A&S residential college, will have "[u]biquitous technology, the seamless integration of socialization and education, and the building of meaningful relationships with peers and faculty [that] will form the cornerstones of this education experience." This is a complete 180-degree turn from this new Missouri law. Social media has the potential to be utilized for course curriculum, alternative learning, and meaningful conversation.
What do you think?