Smartphones at school challenge educators

Social media poses challenge to educators

Quick -- grab your phone.

Odds are it didn't take you long to find it. For many, smartphones have become a daily essential. Now, they're becoming an issue in schools.

Last month, a Bleckley County high school student used a phone to photograph a younger student in the classroom. Then the high school student posted the photo to social media.

The other child's mother complained, arguing that the post invaded their privacy.

Bleckley County School District Superintendent Steve Smith says the matter has been resolved but he says the parent shouldn't have been taken by surprise.

"I think we have an obligation to our parents to notify them if we're going to post anything," said Smith.

That's harder to do when anyone can take a photo.

Smith says it's a topic often brought up at school.

"It seems like we spend more and more time now discussing cell phone use, social media use, cyberbullying..."

So can parents expect privacy for their kids at school in the social media age? According to Mercer Law School Professor David Oedel, that depends on when and where.

"Students can take pictures and be photographed in school unless it's considered a private zone," said Oedel.

Big events like sports games and performances are considered public.

But Oedel says in places like classrooms and locker rooms, it's less clear.

It's largely up to school administrators to make that distinction between what's public and what's private, Oedel says. 

As for photos that disappear like on Snapchat, Oedel says it's "kind of unknown territory, we don't have a lot of case law..."

For now, Oedel says schools and parents both have to make do until the law catches up to the new technology in our classrooms.

 

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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