Like pretty much all forms of communications technology, social media has progressed from being only for tech-savvy enthusiasts to something just about everyone makes use of. With that diffusion coming on the heels of smartphones becoming commonplace, most Japanese adolescents now have a personal device with which they can connect with the rest of the world without their parents serving as watchful intermediaries, and so the Shizuoka Prefectural Board of Education met this week to discuss a new way of keeping its students safe online.
The board has decided to universally prohibit teachers from communicating with students on social media for private matters (i.e. non-official school-related topics). Previously, the board’s code of conduct for teachers made no specific mention of social media, and simply forbade “inappropriate speech and actions.” Under the new policy, though, private-topic communication with students on social media in and of itself will be judged as inappropriate conduct and trigger disciplinary action against the teacher.
While some idealists may lament the loss of an avenue by which scrupulously dedicated teachers could have been a positive factor in pupils’ lives even once class is over for the day, the board’s decision wasn’t prompted by baseless fears, as recent cases of indecent acts by teachers upon students were cited as a driving force in the new policy. Teachers will, however, still be allowed to use social media to send non-personal announcements to students regarding things such as school events and sports/club activities for which the teachers serve as coaches or advisors.
The open forum nature of many social media platforms, as well as the ability to like or share posts without adding a written message, mean there may be some gray areas the board will have to sort out regarding what constitutes “communication,” but the social media ban is expected to be instituted as early as the start of the new school year in April.
Source: Kyodo via Livedoor News via Otakomu
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