As a teacher and a teacher manager, I noticed that the students frequently ask teachers for their facebook names or send them friend requests.

I think that students having their teachers' personal lifes on the facebook feed leads to situations inside the classroom that compromises the way students see the teacher.

How should I respond to a situation where teachers actually accept the friend requests?


Thanks to @JoBedard statement about the "age factor":

It depends on the age class of people your teaching.

We considered useful to specify that the students are age 13 to 20 years old. I would like to add that they are 90% women and from the south-american society, which has different behaviors and educational principles.

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    What is this "facebook" you speak of? – Mad Jack Jun 3 '14 at 16:21
  • I will add to the reply by Davidmh that I simply say that I do not connect with students until they have graduated in order to avoid any conflicts of interest, and that they are welcome back with a request later; very few do. This also applies to LinkedIn etc. – Peter Jansson Jun 3 '14 at 16:31
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    I don't think it is a duplicate. That question is about whether to befriend them or not, this is how to reject requests. – Davidmh Jun 3 '14 at 18:16

Do as with any other person you don't want to have on Facebook: ignore the request or cast a silent no (pro tip: if you configure Facebook in pirate language, it becomes "begone, ye scurvy dog!").

Most people will get the idea: you don't want them there, and will not think further. If someone insists beyond reason, use Facebook's tools to report harassment (chances are you are not the first nor the last one). For anything in between (a message saying "would you like to be friends with me?"), a polite answer saying you don't feel it is appropriate should work.

If you are asked in real life about it you have two options:

  • Be direct and say "I prefer not to disclose it" or "that is personal".
  • If you want a more diplomatic indirect way, claim you don't use it much and change topic.
  • Thanks for those two suggestions on the actual way I can say it, I'll speak with your words the next time I face it, if anything goes wrong I'll blame you :P Thanks – Gus Jun 3 '14 at 15:10
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    "Random guy on the internet said it" is, after all, slightly better than "the voices inside my head told me to". – Davidmh Jun 3 '14 at 15:13
  • It depends on the age class of people your teaching. At my business school (undergraduate/graduate)teachers put their Linkedin adress on the board at the beginning of term and encourage people to invite them. My wife (insurance work) does the same; when she does not want a particular colleague on FB she refuses the invite without explanation and invite him/her on Linkedin. It establishes boundary gently with no drama. – P. O. Jun 3 '14 at 15:58
  • @JoBedard Linkedin is a professional network. No one posts embarrasing stuff there, and it is unlikely your mother will put pictures of baby you covered in mud (not based on real stories at all). – Davidmh Jun 3 '14 at 16:13
  • @JoBedard you are right with the age factor, should I consider updating the question to specify the average age of the students? My situation is actually with students ages 13 to 20... – Gus Jun 3 '14 at 16:14

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