Parents should know how to take advantage of tools that allow kids and teachers to communicate and collaborate without compromising safety.
Advocates of e-communication and social media in the classroom like to point out that people, not technology, are to blame for any inappropriate student-teacher interactions. And when they occur, it's easy to identify those who've crossed the line. "In the past, incidents took place entirely out of view, but now everyone leaves a trail," says Patrick Larkin. Cell phones and websites record every call, text or post, and any kind of message, sent or received, can be forwarded to others. But there are ways to maximize social media's benefits while minimizing the risks. For example, instead of setting up a class page on a regular Facebook account that lets users see other people's personal pages, teachers can create one that students and parents subscribe to by "liking" it; everyone is able to view the teacher's posts—and add their own—without revealing private information. There are also middleman texting services designed for classrooms available free on the Internet, like Remind 101 (remind101.com), which enables teachers to text students and parents on their subscriber list while blocking phone numbers.
Originally published in the November 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.