Friday 15 November 2019

Union warns teachers against being social media 'friends' with students

TUI general secretary John MacGabhann Photo: Tommy Clancy
TUI general secretary John MacGabhann Photo: Tommy Clancy

Ralph Riegel

Teachers were warned that being social media 'friends' of their students can leave them open to potential professional damage and compromise.

Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) general secretary John MacGabhann issued a stark warning about the dangers of social media to delegates at the union's 50th annual conference in Cork. Mr MacGabhann said such contacts, however innocent, can potentially prove very serious for teachers.

"There is the matter of members ill-advisedly being friends on Facebook with students," he said.

"On balance, we must advise that this tends to narrow the necessary professional distance that should be maintained. This is tricky terrain - virtual friendships can wax and wane.

"Photographs can quickly lose their context.

"People - however innocent their intent - can be professionally damaged and compromised."

The TUI official also warned teachers to be acutely conscious of the consequences of all such 'electronic' contacts - particularly between colleagues and employers.

He said all such electronic contacts "in haste, or worse still, in anger... cannot be recalled".

"Members have occasionally endangered their employment and have landed themselves in the stew legally," he said.

"Our strong advice is to be slow and circumspect in committing words to the electronic page.

"What should be settled off-line between two antagonists now far too frequently turns into a cyber spectator sport in which settling issues is made very difficult. Life is too short for such nonsense."

Irish Independent

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