2014 First Place Winner
Immaculate High School, Danbury
Teacher: Joseph Muchanski
One of the most widely debated social issues regarding children and teens today is their behavior on social networks and cyber bullying. Cyber bullying can range from anything to going online and using social media to spread rumors about a person to directly harassing, threatening, and bullying a person. Another online issue is children and teens violating school policies and posting about it or putting pictures of it online. Some people believe that students should be required to give school administrators access to their social media accounts so they can investigate issues of bullying and other violations of school policies, I am not one of those people.
The primary reason I do not believe students should be required to give administrators access to their social media accounts is because I believe what students do online and out of school is not under the school’s jurisdiction. Schools shouldn’t have any more authority over what students are doing online than they have over what students do outside of school in their everyday lives. Giving schools the ability to punish students for what they do online is like allowing them to give students detentions for talking in a movie theater; it’s just not the authority of a school.
Another reason I believe students shouldn’t be required to give administrators access to their social media accounts is because I don’t believe that schools have the time or ability to properly investigate social media problems. Schools barely have the capability to properly monitor what’s going within school walls as it already is and having them monitor students online would be an added headache for them. I also believe that administrators would have a difficult time understanding the difference between the jokes that make up the majority of social networks and the actual problems. The inability to distinguish between these two things could lead to the wrong people being punished. Not to mention that people who are truly doing bad things rarely ever post about it online
The final reason I believe that administrators should not be given the access to the social media accounts of students is because cyber bullying is often a solvable issue. As someone who has been on the receiving end of cyber bullying I can testify that oftentimes the solution is as simple as hitting the block button or walking away from the computer. I can also testify that for every person out there looking to cyber bully someone there are at least five people ready to defend the victim.
Although I am strongly opposed to students being required to give school administrators access to their social media accounts, I do not believe that the First Amendment protects students from it. Making students give school administrators access to their social media accounts does not directly prevent students from expressing their views or speaking freely. However, if schools were to place restrictions on what students could say or do on social networks then students would be protected from that.
All in all I believe that the issues regarding children and teens on social networks are portrayed as much worse than they truly are and that schools shouldn’t be allowed to monitor them.