Shelby: When a school district in California introduced a new surveillance program this year, the goal was to help students who are troubled or depressed. But, as Scott Evans tells us, some teens say the schools are taking things too far.
Scott: Texting, tweeting, posting – all ways you communicate with each other. But now, the social media sites of all 13,000 students in Glendale, California’s middle and high schools are being monitored.
Superintendent Richard Sheehan: The whole purpose is student safety.
Scott: School officials hired a company called Geo Listening to track students’ online posts. The goal, to intervene when students talk about suicide, bullying, violence, or even substance abuse.
Sheehan: Basically, it just monitors for key words, where if a student is considering harming themselves, harming someone else.
Scott: Some students say monitoring them won’t be effective.
Ashley Sandoval: We rebel. If your parents come and tell you, “Oh, you can’t do this,” you’re going to go and do it just to show them that you can. So, I don’t think monitoring us is going to do us any good.
Scott: Geo Listening collects information from sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – publically accessible social networks. The company said in a statement they ‘… don’t monitor private emails, text messages, phone calls or voicemails.’ Some say it might make students think twice about what they post.
Michelle Wright: There’s a lot of cyberbullying that I’ve seen. So, I think if the school gets involved that it’s wonderful. It’s a win-win.
Scott: But the American Civil Liberties Union is more concerned about how it impacts privacy and civil rights issues.
Brendan Hamme: We’re looking for what privacy safeguards are put into place, how the information is being utilized, how it’s being stored and kept, if there are restrictions on how it’s shared with other entities.
Scott: Geo Listening claims it isn’t prying into the lives of teenagers, just giving the old-school notion of ‘hall monitor’ a high-tech twist.
Scott Evans, Channel One News.
Shelby: Thanks, Scott.
Now it is your turn. Should schools be allowed to monitor the social media accounts of students? Head over to Channelone.com and tell us why or why not. We will read some of your responses tomorrow.