If I’m having a bad day, I often find it easier to post my feelings online than to talk about my issues with someone else, especially if that person is a school staff member. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Teachers and other staff members may say “how are you doing?” and be reassured by students’ bright smiles and cheerful responses. But if these teachers were to look at these students’ social media feeds, they might be surprised to see the students are actually suffering much more than they let on. That’s why I think monitoring social media can help more than it can hurt: It’s a way for schools to address problems they wouldn’t otherwise know about.
One of the biggest and most important issues facing schools is the terrifying reality of gun violence. Unfortunately, school shootings have been on the rise in recent years. Several of the perpetrators of these shootings posted their plans on social media before acting. If schools were to monitor the platforms where students post threats of gun violence, future tragedies could possibly be avoided and countless lives might be saved.
In addition to gun violence, cyberbullying is a pervasive problem in schools. This could also be curbed by monitoring social media. Not only would it alert administrators to cyberbullies, it might also prevent bullies from posting abusive or threatening messages in the first place. If cyberbullies know their social media feeds are being watched, they might be more careful about what they post, and students might no longer have to live in fear of what their peers may say to them on the internet.
People who don’t think schools should monitor social media claim that doing so would be an invasion of students’ privacy, but I think these fears are inflated. Schools that implement social media surveillance technology are not patrolling students’ accounts 24/7. They are simply alerted to keywords that suggest students might be planning to harm others or themselves. And the truth is, people surrender their privacy every time they post something online. It’s impossible to control who reads what you say on the internet, so it might as well be read by people who can keep you safe.