• Is it legal for your school to monitor your social media accounts?

    Date: 10.01.13 | by Judge Tom.

    One school district in California apparently thinks it’s okay to monitor students’ social media accounts and┬ácheck in on your Facebook and Twitter messaging. The Glendale School District contracted with a firm to monitor students’ discussions with friends in an attempt to address cyberbullying.

    After two suicides in the area, one in the Glendale school district, the administration decided to concentrate on student online safety. The program tracks public postings of the 14,000 students in the district searching for such topics as drug use, bullying and other violence, truancy and suicide threats. Only social media accounts of those over 13 are monitored since that’s the age where parental permission isn’t required.

    spying

    Photo by Taylor McBride

    What do you think of this recent development? Should schools be policing your online conversations? Is it an invasion of your privacy? Doesn’t the school have a responsibility to keep you safe while there? These are questions that may end up in court and ultimately before the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if the First Amendment applies to students online and off-campus.

    The recent death of Florida’s Rebecca Ann Sedwick, age 12, has brought the subject front and center. Rebecca was taunted tirelessly on multiple sites. A dispute about an ex-boyfriend escalated to the point where her mother took her phone away, closed her Facebook account and finally changed schools. However, Rebecca became involved with new apps and websites such as Voxer, Kik and ask.fm where the bullying started up again. Her mother didn’t know about this. On September 9, 2013, Rebecca jumped to her death after creating a new username “That dead girl.”

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    2 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Is it legal for your school to monitor your social media accounts? | Law Offices of David R. Bach, P.C.
      Tue, 01 Oct 2013 at 04:53

      […] Is it legal for your school to monitor your social media accounts? […]

    • Brandi
      Sun, 27 Apr 2014 at 05:54

      As a teacher, I do believe that a school district do have a responsibility to keep kids safe while they are there. With already low resources and overburdened teachers, I don’t know how schools will be able to trace students’ social media accounts. It is information that kids decide to put out there online, so I do not feel it is an invasion of privacy. If a student is suspected of cyberbullying, I feel that schools should have the right to look at online activity if it is going to help stop a cyberbullying case.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Brandi.

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