I used to teach middle school in a small town so I understand the struggle of having a personal life but keeping it private from my students. Eating out at restaurants often included seeing a student or two. I viewed my role as an educator, not a friend so I made sure to not blur the lines between the two. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to maintain a good teacher-student relationship in today’s reality of social media overload.

While I never ventured past a relationship inside the classroom with my students, news of inappropriate contact between teachers and students is unfortunately nothing new. What is new is the amount of out-of-class contact a teacher and student can have because of the internet and social media. So how can teachers have a proper educational relationship with their students via the social media channels?

According to Missouri, they can’t. Missouri passed a law making it illegal for students and teachers to have contact via social media networks – no matter the nature of the content, even if it is a question on homework. They consider this a preventative approach to protecting potential inappropriateness between students and teachers.

Stories of teachers caught in inappropriate conduct with students via social media are rising, and more and more teachers are losing their jobs due to contact with students on places like Facebook. But there are honest, hard-working teachers out there that argue laws like the one in Missouri are treating all teachers as potential criminals. Where should the line be drawn between the regulation and trust with the people hired to educate our youth? Also, improper behavior with students existed before the internet, so do the cons of social media contact with students outweigh the pros?

In a society where social media has created a lot of different legal issues including free speech, privacy rights, as well as defamation and many more, should it be illegal for teachers to have  private communications with students?