Track Students to Combat Cyber Bullying?

Cyber bullying has become a major issue in recent years and the debate on how to handle this issue has become increasingly important. Is it a parent’s job to monitor their kids’ social media accounts or should public school systems get involved? Many people believe there needs to be a balance between parental monitoring and school involvement. Students need to be protected from online dangers but there privacy also needs to be protected.


The Glendale school district in Los Angeles hired a tech firm, Geo Listening, to monitor students’ social networking sites for keywords related to cyber bullying, drug use and school violence. They can see exactly what they have typed, where they have been and what they have been doing. “These could be posts that are initiated from school, or not; using school-owned technology, or not. The technology also allows for the flagging and reporting of drug use or class-cutting – or really anything publicly posted by a student that could be viewed as problematic to the school”, said Justin W. Patchin.


This program may be increasing the schools sense of security but it is making the students feel like their privacy and security has been taken away. “..but students will feel their speech chilled knowing that the school district is watching,” said Anupam Chander. Students may behave differently online if they know that school officials are watching everything they do. This may be a good thing but it will most likely have negative side effects.


According to CNN’s Kelly Wallace, it has cost the Glendale school district 40,500 dollars annually to monitor all of their students’ social media sites. Is this an appropriate place to put school resources? Forty thousand dollars could be used for several other programs in the school system such as programs to educate parents and students about the Internet in general, but specifically social media. If parents are more aware of the social media sites their children are using they can more effectively regulate and monitor them without a lot of school interference. Also, if students are taught how to behave in an appropriate manner online by their parents and by school officials it will reduce incidents of cyber bullying. It is understandable that this is a big job for parents but it will require less invasive measures from school officials to prevent cyber bullying.


However, it is not reasonable to say that school monitoring to combat cyber bullying is ineffective because it has not been in place or researched for a long enough period of time. In the instance that it does stop or reduce school violence and self-harm significantly, the money invested in the tech firm may be worthy in the eyes of most.


The main issue with tracking students is the violation of privacy. “It’s students’ expression of their own thoughts and feelings to their friends,” said Young Cho, student at Herbert Hoover High School to the Los Angeles Times, “For the school to intrude in that area – I understand they can do it, but I don’t think it’s right.”


Many people, especially students, feel as if it is an invasion of their right to privacy. However, many would argue that if students are posting to public websites anyways it doesn’t matter if the school chooses to monitor their posts. At my high school there was an employee who was hired to monitor our social media accounts in order to maintain school security. I never felt like my privacy was being violated because any time I posted on social media I was aware that anyone, including my school officials, could see it. It all depends on the person and how educated they are about the Internet and social media.


In conclusion, tracking and monitoring students to combat serious issues, such as bullying and other violence can be effective if it is used under the right circumstances. The information would need to be highly secure with access granted to a minimal amount of people. It would need to be deleted after a certain number of days. Students and parents would also need to be aware of the monitoring. In addition to schools monitoring for keywords and phrases on social media sites, it is equally important for the school system to educate students on privacy issues and the dangers of bullying on the Internet (and in reality). The answer is not a clear cut yes or no because this issue is a lot more complicated than that. Students’ privacy is at risk when using a system like this but their safety is at risk if nothing is done about the issue.


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15 thoughts on “Track Students to Combat Cyber Bullying?

  1. This was a very interesting post, and to be quite honest, I am shocked by that little Geo Listening bit. That was extremely intrusive, and further then I think schools should be able to go. Also, forty thousand dollars? That is quite a bit of money, and we don’t even know if it is effective? Seems kind of faulty to me. I’m not entirely sure we should depend on parents either, though. There were tons of programs in my school that tried to get parents to be more proactive and learn about the internet, but they didn’t seem to help much. Kids have been avoiding parental attention since the dawn of humanity, and will continue to do so, so I’m not entirely sure teaching parents is the most effective way either.

  2. Really great and interesting blog post! I agree with Richard. All that money spent and they’re not even sure if it’s effective? I feel like the system needs a lot of work and that’s money that could be spent on other programs. I’m not sure that the solution to prevent bullying is just monitoring what the kids are doing. People will always find a way around things. I think the problem with bullying should be taught more in schools, so the kids understand exactly what their words can do. Maybe that’s a cheesy answer, but in my high school we didn’t need to be monitored 24/7 on the internet to know that bullying is not okay we had class periods where we discussed it and what harm it can cause.

  3. I agree with you that it is difficult to form a straight ‘yes or no’ answer to this question…it takes a lot of consideration on both sides, and it varies depending on the situation/school/parents. I personally feel like monitoring student’s social media isn’t the responsibility of the school OR a parents. Both of their jobs are to educate their children, not track them and their every word. Schools and parents should be educating their children about internet permanence, what is acceptable to post, and the consequences of posting inappropriate or personal things. If you can teach the kids to be responsible, they can have privacy (which is necessary for students to have) while also having the trust of their parents and teachers.

  4. I really liked the article, the piece has good flow throughout the article. I think the use of social media monitoring from a school is absurd and a gross exaggeration of what authority a school should have over its students. Parents should be the ones monitoring their kids social media posts if they choose to do so.
    Public and private education are overstepping their boundaries when they try to parent peoples kids, the state mandated education system cannot replace your parents by acting as a helicopter parent over your child and their internet habits. Some situations in matters such as: drug abuse, skipping class and cyber bullying are best left between involved parents and kids; involving the school can complicate on how the parent wants to discipline their kid.

  5. I feel as if it’s a waste of school resources and taxpayer money (if public) to monitor student’s social media accounts at this level. If the primary objective is to monitor “bullying”, what kind of authority does the school hold for internet activity? Beyond that, couldn’t students be bullied by “anonymous” accounts?

    I think that, again, this comes down to education. Parents should teach their children how to deal with bullies both on and off line. The government can’t be allowed into every aspect of our life under the justification of keeping us safe. $40k is a lot of money and it could certainly go toward developing a short course for students on internet etiquette and usage; this is something that will benefit them much more than school intervention alone.

  6. Good post, it was really interesting to read! I think that “tracking students to combat cyber bullying” is a bad idea, especially after reading this post and the individual readings for this week. It seems that the problem lies in the relationship between the parent and child, not the school board and child, meaning that the school shouldn’t necessarily get involved when dealing with cyber bullying. I don’t think the school tracking the students internet use exactly violates their privacy, as almost everything you post on the internet is public information, but it seems like a waste of time, money, and energy.

  7. Good job! This post was very interesting. I agree with some of the others; monitoring student’s internet activity isn’t the school’s responsibility. I don’t think the school has any right to track a student’s use of the internet unless the student is on the school’s wifi or a school computer. Tracking students social media for the purpose of preventing bullying, in my opinion, is not the school’s job.

  8. Interesting Blog Post!
    First off Monitoring student’d internet activity, but when it comes to social media there is nothing really the school can do. But like Vanu says if students are using the school’s wifi/internet then by all means add the restrictions necessary. I remember when I was attending private school are internet usage was limited including certain sites. Even when I went to a local computer clubhouse the internet had restrictions for example one couldn’t go on Facebook, but you could go on youtube. Anyways going off topic, but back to the topic of school’s wifi/internet access would not be invading the students privacy for tracking what they do with the school’s wifi/internet.
    Second the relationship between the parents and students is more essential when talking about cyber bullying, you can’t really teach parents about the internet but you can educate them on the main topic, the issue at hand and same with students because at the end of the day the students are still gonna get on their phones snapchat, instagram, Facebook, Twitter and it’s not really an issue of school and student more like just student issue. The best method of approaching this issue is not using a system that costs $40,000 dollars and without any positive/negative outcomes, we don’t know how effective it is. But we should try to educate one another, look for signs and most importantly just be kind to one another because kindness is far more effective and it’s had positive results.

  9. Great blog post! Very interesting. I agree with others that it isn’t the school’s responsibility to track what the students are doing. Its up to the students. If they aren’t using school time to their best usage, then that is their fault. They know the consequences and so they will be the ones responsible. Cyber bullying will happen as long as there is internet. The victims must figure out a way to get themselves out. Go find an adult to help and not just sulk about the negative things being said about it. The school doesn’t have a right to track those with internet.

  10. This was a really good blog post, it flowed very nicely. I do agree that it’s hard to answer with the question with a straight yes or no. It always depends on the circumstance and seriousness of the situation. But what I do know for sure is that children need to be educated about privacy and surveillance, that what they say can be tracked and what you do online can leave a trail that leads back to them.

  11. I don’t believe that this a good system for schools to use on their students to help stop cyber bullying. In my opinion, I feel like it is a invasion of privacy to monitor what students say on social media unless the post on the website was made on the school’s internet servers. Schools should teach students and teachers about how they should learn to deal with cyber bulling by speaking up and telling it to their parents, school administrators, or the police. $40,000 is way too much for a school to be using out of their budget just to monitor cyber bullying.

  12. Great post! I don’t think that the cost of the Glendale school district was worth it to stop cyber bullying. I think that there are much less expensive ways to stop cyber bullying that can be just as effective. Having a school hire someone to monitor the social media sites is going to help, like you said. I think that teachers should also just pay attention more and report incidents because if someone is being cyber-bullied then there is a good chance that they are also being bullied in person. I agree that tracking could be effective if it is used under the right circumstances, and in the right way.

  13. I agree with the other students that the school shouldn’t take the responsibility on what the kids are posting or tracking what they are doing. I believe that as long as there are kids and they have access to the internet that there will be some sort of bullying. The kids that are getting cyber bullied should do exactly what you do for normal bullying and go find a administrator so they can handle the situation.

  14. Somewhat Less Secret Spy Guy

    The LA program listening in on social media posts by students does not surprise me. I have always felt that ultimately Education institutions would gather some interest in it, and I am surprised it is not more widespread. I say this because I feel that it is not necessary, but mostly because it is not something I feel to be particularly effective. If I ever had negative thoughts about a teacher or a school, I very rarely put those in any form of writing, text, post, note, whatever the medium may be. I feel that these systems will help, but only to catch those that would probably be silly enough to get caught in the first place.

  15. Good post, I agree that it depends on the person and their opinion of privacy. I do not think it is necessary to spend school resources on intensive and invasive monitoring students activity. I think that the ordinary school’s monitoring system of their computers is adequate enough. When schools begin to monitor personal devices such as laptops, cell phones, and tablets, that is where the line begins to be crossed. That is where I believe that parent involvement begins.

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