Some schools in the Indian city of Chennai have created fake Facebook profiles to snoop on their own students. Students are saying malicious things about their schools, teachers and each other, and the schools see it as their responsibility to monitor what is being said online. However, many have questioned the morality and even legality of this surveillance.
“A remark by a first year degree student against a junior in Class 11 in the same institution recently sparked off an instance of cyber bullying, with students ganging up against each other and trading abuse online,” a teacher said in a Times of India report.
Sarah Alexander, the principal at another school in the area, said that her school monitors online activity, but not to an extreme degree. “We inform parents of the students’ online activities,” she said. “But we do not probe each account. I don’t think it is the right way to curtail improper behavior on the net.”
Many feel that instead of surveilling the students, schools should be stepping up their efforts to educate about responsible Internet use.
“If schools are worried about cyber bullying and students maligning teachers, they should teach students how to use the Internet responsibly,” said internet expert Anivar Aravind. “Any individual who is 14 years old can create a profile on a social networking site. People are free to use the Internet to express their opinions and emotions. Instead of curtailing that freedom, students should be taught to behave responsibly.”
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