With the profound number of online profiles and social media websites, it is nothing new that bullying has branched away from being something only physically or verbally inflicted. In the technology reliant era we live in, combating cyberbullying has always been a major goal.
As teenage students, we have all sat through prevention presentations designed to teach us the impact of cyberbullying, just as teachers and administrators are constantly reminded to enforce a strict anti-bullying code to protect students. However, since cyberbullying extends beyond school walls, it is not enough to only teach, and it seems that monitoring students’ activities online has been a unique and controversial approach in tackling cyberbullying.
School districts across the country have turned to social media monitoring because in the event of students causing trouble, schools are able to efficiently track the perpetrator, narrow down what was exchanged and reprimand accordingly. Monitoring software companies are hired in order to do this media tracking, and they can only access students’ public posts and comments. The largest controversy surrounding these actions involve determining to what extent is this crossing a fine line of privacy; is this method of preventing cyberbullying at the cost of personally intruding into a student’s online freedom?
To many, school districts are simply spying on students’ online activities, but private pages, messages, emails and chats are not monitored. Schools are not scrolling down everything that is posted or expressed by students online; monitoring softwares only search for keywords to find possible red flags. In this sense, social media surveillance is not a form of snooping, but a way of preventing. It serves as a widespread safeguard towards virtual threats and harmful behavior. Schools who monitor online activities are simply trying to diminish the most insidious aspect of modern technology.