#LikeForLike: Social Media for Educators

GallBladderzBy Taylor Gall — My Instagram is usually blowing up with potential followers (not), so I didn’t flinch when I got a follow request from an account last Tuesday evening.

I briefly scrolled through it, and decided not to follow back because:

  1. I didn’t seem to recognize the person’s name.
  2. They had posted a lot of pictures of basketball players.
  3. And pictures of Ariana Grande?
  4. Wait.
  5. Oh no oh no oh no.
  6. It was one of my 7th grade students from field placement.

I jumped out of my seat at the library and immediately blocked the account, and switched my Instagram to private.

Yes, you heard me: I didn’t have my Instagram on private. Gallbladderz was open for public viewing.

I had never posted anything “inappropriate” on Instagram- there were no drinking pictures, no swears in the captions, nothing that I wouldn’t want my Grandma Judy seeing. Because of the tameness of my account, I had never felt the need to hide it from the world. Additionally, in order to find me you either needed to be my friend on Facebook or know to look up “Gallbladderz” on an Instagram search.

I immediately emailed my cooperating teacher. I didn’t want to breech the student-teacher relationship guidelines, and I wanted to make sure she knew of the situation right away.

Turns out she knew more about the situation than I thought. She herself had several “follow” requests from students.

How can this be? When I was in 7th grade, I had neither desire nor the means to creep on my teachers with social media. The socialization of teenagers is changing, though, and with it has come an increased use of social media.

When I was first using AIM as a 6th grader, I had 14 contacts, all of which were my closest friends. These days, 6th graders have 1,200 Instagram followers and don’t know 80% of them. The internet safety and caution that I knew as a middle school student has gone out the window. Now it’s all about likes, follows and #hashtags.

So the message is to be careful. Lock down your social media accounts; make it hard for your students to find you. Staying separate from your teenagers on social media will maintain your sense of professionalism in the classroom. They don’t need to see what’s being posted on Gallbladderz.

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