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Is Social Media Causing Inappropriate Teacher-Student Relationships?

Parental Controls

Virtual communications between teachers and students can be a minefield. Help your kids steer clear of problems by following these expert tips.

Learn School Policy
If administrators plan to use texting and social media, you should receive written notification. Make sure individual instructors establish ground rules that all students agree to, and ask for a copy. Also request to be a member or have viewing rights of any online platform.

Talk with Your Teen
Review the class rules with your child and make sure she understands what constitutes unacceptable behavior—a "friend" request from her teacher or vice versa—and why. Explain that discussing anything personal with teachers is strictly out of bounds.

Check Logs
Let your teen know in advance that you'll be monitoring his cell phone records and computer history. Ask for his Facebook password so you can see what's happening on your child's page even if you don't friend each other. If you are friends, check the privacy controls and ask him to set them so that you can see everything. Find out if your child is on Twitter or Instagram (you can type in his phone number or name, though he might use a different one), since kids often migrate there to avoid parents lurking on Facebook.

Remain Aware
Your child may not tell you straight out that a teacher's behavior is making her feel annoyed, confused or uncomfortable. Stay alert for subtle clues and attempt to get her to open up. Watch out for signs of favoritism or special treatment: Late-night texts, one-on-one study sessions and rides home are all potential red flags.

Voice Your Concerns
If you suspect something improper but really aren't sure, talk with a school counselor. In cases where you have clear evidence of inappropriate behavior, arrange a meeting with the principal or other high-level administrators.