Ethical issues raised by educational use of social media

When faced with the question about ethical issues with social networking, we must first examine what ethical issues actually are. From looking at the name you might be able to speculate what ethical issues are and as the BBC states, they are a system of moral principles and a branch of philosophy which defines what is good for individuals and society [1]. So basically they are things that can lead to dilemmas with our rights and responsibilities, moral decisions and what we think is right and wrong.

So how do ethics in education tie into social media. Well, quite simply, there are many ethical issues that social media can emit. For example, there are problems with legislation where it is cloudy for the educators to know what is right and wrong to enforce, online harassment can be escalated on social media, plagiarism could be easier to commit, and there are issues about knowing the offline identity of others [2]. For this post I will be focusing on harassment in education, for both the students and teachers.

The internet and social media is growing, getting larger and attracting more people every day, with over 1.3 billion active users on Facebook [3] (there are 7 billion people in the world, that is 1 in 7 people signed up to just Facebook alone), almost likely that if you wanted to search for someone you know, you will find them with ease and little effort.

Advert for Be Share Aware by the NSPCC about cyber bullying

As the odd but kinda relevant video clip portrays, personal information can be shared and sent anywhere in a very little amount of time, so this could to lead some terrible bullying and classroom trouble if they share content that could be used against them.

Personally I always felt that there was and should be a line for what a student can know about a teacher’s personal life. Social media is making it a lot harder for teachers to separate this because their pictures, activities and personal information is so easy to access by anyone. Letting a student know some personal information could lead to the teacher’s time of teaching them a lot harder since they could lose their authority over the troublesome student.

So, social media can cause some serious problems with students and teachers when it come to harassment and cyber bullying. As most problems with personal data on the internet, you can easily counter and cut down the possibility of harassment by keeping control of your data and by only putting the things that you don’t mind being shared to the world on a social media site.


[1] BBC. 2014. Ethics: a general introduction. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 March 15].

[2] Online Newsletter. 2014. Social media in education: ethical concerns. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 March 15].

[3] Statistic Brain. 2015. Facebook Statistics. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 March 15].

[4] NSPCC. 2015. Be Share Aware. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 March 15].


4 thoughts on “Ethical issues raised by educational use of social media

  1. Irinie Opoku March 23, 2015 / 6:12 pm

    Very nice read! The video clip is most definitely a great example of how social media amplifies certain situations. Alex and Sam sending a “funny” picture to their friend Katie just goes to show how the control of digital content switches from person to person very fast, consequently going viral. Though NSPCC promote that children be “share aware” in this clip, with cyberbullying being a focal point of your post, do you feel as though more attempts of tackling this ethical issue have been imposed effectively?

    Regarding teachers on social media, I remember being in secondary school and having peers who would find teachers on Facebook and boast about it in class e.g. disclosing their age and birthday’s. You say social media can cause problems with students and teachers when it comes to harassment and cyber bullying. How so?


  2. oliviahandyside March 25, 2015 / 4:28 pm

    I think it’s definitely a complex situation for teachers as you highlighted in your post. When we’re at school we all seem to forget that they are actually humans too- with lives, friends & families etc outside of the classroom, especially as students reach 6th form where there is only a few years between them and the younger teachers who are teaching them.

    In terms of what teachers share on Facebook and other Social Media sites I think high privacy is definitely key, after all the teachers are there to teach the students, not discuss how they spent their weekends.

    I don’t know if you came across the following site; but it’s effectively a platform where anyone can rate their teachers, a quick look at my own school suggests that quite a few of the reviews are based on the teachers personality and whether they were ‘a bit of a lad’ rather than the quality of their teaching. Even with the best intentions of teachers many of these anonymous sites exist where they have no control over true or untrue comments made about them. In my final year of school a website called ‘Little Gossip’ surfaced and scandalous and anonymous claims were made about both students and teachers, some of which transpired to be true.

    A further concern is the rising number of reports in the media relating to students having relationships with teachers, many of these articles cite Facebook as the catalyst such as in this article, with many schools now having policies which prevent teachers being friends with any students past, or present, on Facebook. My Aunt is a teacher and it has been made clear that doing this is a fireable offence, what do you think of this? Do you think this is a practical way to prevent this happening? And does it really do anything to stop people looking up their teachers on Facebook as Irinie suggested above?


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