Social media between teacher and students: Yes or no?

It all started with an accident of a teacher sending his genitals to his students in a group chat on Whatsapp. Afterwards, numerous different cases of teachers being to intimate with their students were discovered. According to a Dutch labour union for teachers, there are annually 25 teacher fired, because they are to intimate with their students. This stirred up a lot of attention to the topic of where the line is between teachers and students, considering that social media makes it much easier to have contact outside class (Van Der Wal 2015).


Nowadays, a lot of teachers communicate with their students through social media. They might be friends on Facebook, they might follow each other on Twitter and there is even a possibility to contact each other through Whatsapp. Some teachers also use social media as teaching tools, as they give assignments that can be made via social media in order to engage the students (Grisham 2014).

There are different opinions on this matter. Some say that there is nothing wrong with communicating with students through social media. They belief that it is a convenient way to contact students, for example reminding them for deadlines. Also social media is something that interests students and therefore, it makes students more willing to interact. Teachers also belief that students should learn how to communicate differently when talking professionally or personally (Fleming 2014).

On the other side, some people think it is not appropriate to communicate in such a way. They do not see the reason why teacher would want to connect on such level with their students. Furthermore, this way of communicating has led to blurred boundaries and sexual impropriety (which could be seen in the example given above), as teachers dare to say more online than face-to-face (Fleming 2014).

However, as it is impossible to exclude or prohibit this from their lives, it is important to know how teachers and students should handle and behave. Therefore, a few recommendations were given. First of all, the school should have a policy outlining what teacher are and are not allowed to do on social media (Fleming 2014). Secondly, it is advisable for the teacher to think about creating a separate account for personal use and professional use. This could make drawing a line easier for the teacher. Furthermore, teachers should also be transparent about how social media is used in class. Parents, for example, can then see how the communication happens between teachers and students (Pannoni 2015).

What do you guys think? Should teachers use social media to contact with their students or not? Should teachers friend and/or follow students? What about if the student is already graduated? Is it then more appropriate?

Van der Wal, C. (2015). Docenten worstelen met leerlingcontact social media Available at [Accessed on 23 Oct. 2015]

Grisham, L. (2014) Teachers, students and social media: where is the line? Available at [Accessed on 23 Oct. 2015]

Pannoni, A. (2015) 3 tips for high school teachers to use social media responsibly in class. Available at [Accessed on 23 Oct. 2015]

Fleming, A.R. (2014). Social media boundaries: Should teachers and students be friends? Available at [Accessed on 23 Oct. 2015]


4 thoughts on “Social media between teacher and students: Yes or no?

  1. This could definitely be a problem, so I think the smartest thing for the teacher to do is, create a separate Facebook group for the whole class. In that way he or she does not have to be friends with every individual person in that group, but they still have the possibility to ask questions and share information. So no line will be crossed and it is pure a professional forum.

  2. I think as a teacher you are definitely crossing a line to have a student on whatsapp. If you have their number you can always send a text message, which I prefer to do with my boss or people I work for. A text message gives a certain boundary and safety. You do not accidentally send a picture and you keep the distance between private life and work. What Susanne above mentions is also a fair point; create a Facebook group for the class without being friends is a great idea.

  3. I also agree with the comments above. I think it’s inappropriate to contact students on Facebook or any other Social Media platform for non-school related reasons. A teacher should be able to contact their students, but with a special profile or what Sophie mentioned, through a text message.

    In my opinion, it’s a little more appropriate to befriend an already graduated student. Then it’s up to the student to accept or decline the request (and vice versa). I also think it’s easier to decline such a request after graduation, because the chance that you will see this teacher again is smaller than when you’re still in his/her class.

  4. Agree with the above about side-stepping the friendship line through facebook groups. It’s definitely interesting to look at bringing social media to education, much like the concept of bringing the water cooler to the people.

    Regarding when it is appropriate to befriend an undergraduate / postgraduate, this raises an important point. Social media, at its most intimate, provides transparency in to our lives. As an individual is attached to an establishment, be it educational or professional, there are implications from the information revealed to them. I don’t think, therefore, it is appropriate for organisations to establish norms where such high levels of transparency are maintained. This, for me, causes privacy concerns and given the amount of cases whereby an individual has abused their position of power, I think it can only cause more problems than it solves.

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