The wide use of digital technologies nowadays has raised concerns about individuals’ privacy. Many people think that personal information contained in digital sources should not be available to a third party. In particular, there is an opinion that schools should not monitor students’ social media because it would breach students’ privacy. Indeed, it seems that social media is beyond the school area of responsibility, and students can do whatever they want there. However, schools are accountable for ensuring children’s safety, and social media can reveal specific threats to students’ security. Therefore, this paper argues that schools should have access to students’ social media, but only to the information that can be publicly available. It means that schools should be able to check students’ posts, photos, videos, and comments but not their private messages. The first reason for this is that tracking students’ social media publications may reveal cases of cyberbullying and hate speech. Second, observing students’ photos and videos can disclose deviant behaviors, such as smoking or alcohol abuse. Third, particular posts can signify that a student has depression or other psychological problems and needs help.
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Greenwald (n.d.) argues that privacy has always been a social norm, and it has been important because people’s behavior without surveillance is extremely different from that under supervision. He states that being watched makes people be more conformist and obedient (Greenwald, n.d.). While this argument supports the need for privacy, it also justifies the necessity of school monitoring of students’ social media. Under observation, students are supposed to restrain from engaging in such behaviors as cyberbullying and hate speech. Further, although photos and videos can be considered personal information, schools can use them to track whether students abuse alcohol or other substances and take measures to address this problem. Finally, schools can check whether students’ posts contain suicidal thoughts or threats to take action to prevent teen suicide or school shootings. In conclusion, the right to privacy is important in social media, but when the matter concerns students, schools should be able to have access to publicly available information in students’ social media accounts. In this case, schools will be able to address possible security threats.
Greenwald, G. (n.d.). Why privacy matters. Web.