Online Social Networking: A Teacher's Bane

Children nowadays are more privileged & are very active online.
As some of you have noticed, many students from my school read my blog.
I have no qualms about students reading my blog, commenting on what I have written & creating a link on their blogs to mine.

However, I do have a problem with one thing that they do online...
Requesting to be added to their friends list on a social networking website.
This happens to me all the time on friendster.
I mentioned this issue in a previous post: The Professional Divide.
Since then, much has changed & the situation has now escalated!
I am amazed at the throng of requests that I have been receiving!

I am mainly displeased at the manner in which they make the request.
A rare few would send me a message with the request & ask me nicely.
These people make me really happy and they seem to honestly want to make a new friend.
However, too large a majority of students plainly send only the request.
These people are rejected immediately without any second thoughts.
Some even complain & pester if I do not accept their request!
One person has pushed me so far that I almost blocked her.

Even though I reject all requests, I am polite...
I send a message to explain why.
I have a polite rejection message pre-typed!
Every time I receive a request, I'll click 'reject' & then send this pre-typed explanation message:

Thank you for sending me a friend request...
But I'm sorry to say that I cannot approve it while I am a teacher in your school.

All the best to you in your studies!

Mr Yong

p/s: next time you want to make a new friend, send the person a message FIRST.
I believe that a professional should separate work from social life.
There must be clear cut boundaries in the relationship between a teacher and his student.
This is to avoid any conflict of interest.
Once a teacher is added to a student's friends list, the status lines are blurred.
The teacher may lose his impression of authority & skill.
And these is also the issue of being too intimate with a student.
One day, I may need to discipline or evaluate the person. And this, without bias.

The main purpose of my online profile is to meet old friends & make some new ones.
How can old friends identify you if they cannot find your profile?
How can interesting people find you interesting if they cannot read about you?
This is why I have continued to allow my profile to be public.
I am willing to pay the price of abuse from admirers & haters alike.

A female teacher has been approving student friend requests & a student wonders why I wont.
Think about it. Our circumstances are totally different!
I am a male teacher teaching in a GIRLS school.
I HAVE TO keep my distance from the female students!
I wouldn't want to give any false hopes nor do I want them to be too comfortable with me.

I want to be friendly with my students.
But just like in any relationship, there must be limits.
This is my limit.
I will not approve your friend request so long as you are a student in the school that I am currently teaching in.
This is a principle on which I stand.
Please understand.
Live with it.

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