Professors reexamine social media interactions with students


With the ever-growing trend of social media usage, more faculty and staff members are finding themselves on social media sites. They are also finding themselves faced with decisions regarding how to interact with students on social media.

With growing accessibility and popularity of Facebook and other social medias, professors are faced with the dilemma of what is appropriate connection with students. Some faculty will accept friend requests, and others will not. (Photo by Kaitie Fox)

While some faculty and staff members will accept friend requests, others will not.

Dr. Robin Adams-Weber, assistant professor of nursing, has a Facebook account and will only accept friend requests from students after they graduate.

“As far as friending, I don’t think it’s really appropriate in my case until they graduate,” Adams-Weber said. “There’s so much in the media about people overstepping their bounds. I just want to be safe.”

Other faculty and staff members find social media to be beneficial for interacting with students.

“Considering my role as a resident director and seeing a lot of their life in a more relaxed atmosphere, I think it works well with residence life,” Woolman resident director Kat Gritter said.

Gritter, who has Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts, has discovered that using social media is sometimes better than other forms of communication.

“I’m finding that Facebook has a lot of helpful ways of communicating with students,” Gritter said. “I’m surprised at how quickly students respond to Facebook. In some ways, using Facebook might be easier than trying to track someone down or sending an email. People don’t pay attention to email, but they’ll pay attention to Facebook.”

Despite the trend of increased media usage, some faculty members are resisting.

“I’ve never yet been confronted with why I would want a Twitter account,” said Dr. Steve Jensen, associate professor of English. “I could see why I would want a Facebook account in some ways. My wife has one. I can look over her shoulder and spy on my family, keep up with them that way.”

Dr. Kyle Calderhead, assistant professor of mathematics, does not personally use social media, but he does recognize there are pros and cons to professors using social media.

“On the plus side, it’s one more venue to communicate and it lends itself to a certain kind of communication that’s different than you might have otherwise,” Calderhead said. “On the minus side, it’s one more thing.”

How students interact with professors on social media varies as well.

“It depends on how I know them,” Amy Christman, sophomore youth and educational ministries major said. “The ones I’m friends with I know because I’ve worked with them outside of class mostly, so I have a more personal relationship with them off Facebook. It’s not just a student professor relationship.”

Many faculty and staff members want to remind students to be cautious of what they post on social media sites, especially when faculty and staff members can view student profiles.

“I think the interesting issues that sometimes come up are about students not always being very cognizant of the breadth of their audience by the stuff they do, and post and say on Facebook,” Jensen said. “I know some faculty would say ‘I’ve learned more than I should about my student’.”

Kaylee Riley is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.

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