Warning: You’re about to feel old. Did you know that Facebook has been around for 10 years? Ten whole years of Facebook updates that let you search through your embarrassing statuses, and a decade of using your Facebook newsfeed as a way to procrastinate. But perhaps the most uncomfortable of all the Facebook dilemmas is when you see that awkward friend request from an older family member, former teacher or anyone else you might feel weird about seeing your hilarious, albeit sometimes inappropriate, posts. But a new study says you shouldn’t be so quick to cringe. Awkward friend requests could actually be good for you.
Researchers from Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science set out to figure out whether social media friendships between teachers or school administration and their students are helpful or detrimental. They surveyed students at two schools: one that had a very strict policy against teacher-student interactions on social media and one that didn’t. They found that connections between students and teachers were super beneficial in terms of building community, finding information (using social media as a way to ask questions about class assignments) and helping students learn how to have appropriate online personas. One student surveyed said, “All teachers and the students follow each other. I use that as a reason to censor my tweets. I think ‘how would [the principal] feel if he saw that?’ So I should really think before I post.”
“When family, friends, teachers, romantic interests and coworkers mix and mingle, the result is social awkwardness,” the researchers say in a news release. BUT, “What we realized from our conversations with the students and survey results was that these relationships aid in the students’ maturation process not only by modeling appropriate behavior, but also getting the teens to think before they post. Adding adults, from teachers to parents, to a teen’s social media environment fundamentally shifts their online behavior and how they perceive the norms of the medium.”
Bottom line: Accepting that friend request might feel a bit awkward at first, but it’ll help you grow up and avoid any major social media mistakes that could cost you a job down the line.
Are YOU Facebook friends with current or former teachers? Tweet us your thoughts @BritandCo!
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