A Lesson for Teachers? How Not to Use Cell Phones

December 19, 2011 | By | Comments (1)

School districts around the country, concerned that teachers can get too cozy with students on the Internet or when communicating by cell phone, are making new rules to prohibit contact.

In some places, Facebook messages are a no-no, the New York Times reported yesterday. Other school administrators have outlawed text messages – or any conversation conducted on a cell phone. Citing a relationship between an eighth grade English teacher and a 14-year-old student that was fueled by text messages—and which resulted in charges of statutory rape — a superintendent  in Georgia has prohibited private electronic communications.

Are these examples of school administrators confusing apples and oranges? My first reaction was to think that technologies aren’t the problem, people are. Most teachers are fine, upstanding citizens with their students’  best interests at heart. The few exceptions have always had opportunities to break rules. Before the days of text messages, a teacher could meet with a student privately in a classroom behind a closed door. Or send notes the old-fashioned way, on paper.

But maybe the new rules are an inevitable byproduct of the fact that new technologies make it so easy to communicate casually—and privately— that we may cross the line to become too personal. Before cell phones, if a teacher and a student had a phone conversation,  the student would most likely have been at home, where a parent might at any moment pick up an extension and hear what was being said.

What do you think?  Do we need more rules to govern cell phone and Internet communications, for teachers and students — or maybe for the rest of us, too?

(image via RealSimple.com)