When Students Ask to Follow or Friend: An Ethical Response Guide for Educators

I was recently approached by a colleague from Common Sense Media asking if I’d ever formally documented my “unwritten rules” for accepting friend requests from former students and until this point, I hadn’t. I spent some time creating this guide using Canva and am ready to share my opinion with readers. (Thank you for the prompt, Tali. This is my first blog post in a long time! I appreciate the push!)

Student_Teacher Social Media Friending Guide

6 comments on “When Students Ask to Follow or Friend: An Ethical Response Guide for EducatorsAdd yours →

  1. Great advice and very helpful for any educator as they weigh in on the decision when asked that question by students and/or parents of students.

  2. I’m curious about this some the actual rule in the rules they send out is 2 years after graduation or age 20. Has OPS given any thought to updating that?

    1. Hey Erin!

      Honestly I hadn’t heard that before. Here’s what I do know. I’d be interested to see it though if you find it somewhere. (If that’s the case, I’m clearly being a bit of a rule-breaker!)

      The social media guidelines for school use are provided below and currently, they say that Twitter and a Facebook page are the only forms of social media sites allowed for school use. Over the spring and summer, I was able to work with our communications department to begin to develop some new guidelines which may allow for some additional opportinities for use alongside clear communication with principals and parents. These guidelines aren’t complete yet but will be released sometime this fall. Believe you me, I will be shouting them from the rooftop as this is very exciting for as a communication opportunity for our schools!


      Below is a page I found on Tech Hub regarding advice for use. This page suggests not friending current students but I don’t see anything written about a two year rule.


      The waters are a little murky, especially regarding our teachers who have children in the district. In my opinion, it’s unrealistic to expect that a teacher wouldn’t friend their own child and possibly some of that child’s friends. From a digital citizenship standpoint, I always encourage my parents to friend their children on social media sites in order to navigate those waters along side them. I do not have children in the district, so my boundaries are different than our parents that do and I choose to not connect current students with my personal Facebook world until they are a graduate.

      Again, this is my insight as I hadn’t heard anything like that before – that certainly doesn’t mean it wasn’t put out there, just possibly that I missed that communication somewhere along the line!

  3. I like it! Simple, easy, down to earth. Teachers are humans too and we can’t pretend that social media doesn’t exist for us!

  4. Just had 5th graders want to friend me. It was tough explaining my professional Twitter and personal Facebook. I totally agree with “friending” your own children and yes sometimes that includes their friends.

  5. I agree with your policy on not accepting friend requests from students until they graduate. This has been my simple answer. But I don’t always accept even then. It depends on the student ultimately. This blog post inspired me to look up what our won school board policy is – and well I see nothing about social media so clearly it needs updating! Students are free to follow my twitter feed and my instagram is set to public – only because that is purely a pursuit of photography and travel – no personal pictures.
    I like to think all high school students are responsible young adults but I think it is a bit naive to not recognize that some can be slightly nefarious.

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