Social Media Monitoring used to track students' accounts

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by Karen Hopkins, 13News Now

WHAS11.com

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 12:32 PM

NORFOLK -- Schools are hiring companies to monitor students' social media accounts to detect threats as soon as the words are typed.

"Unfortunately we had a very high profile suicide on one of our campuses," Superintendent Richard Sheehan said.

After a student took his own life in California’s Glendale Unified School district, Sheehan contracted the company Geo Listening to watch Facebook and Twitter posts of middle and high students.

Virginia Beach technology expert Eric Rogers explained schools can legally track your kids' public posts online, but it's not that easy. "They could just change their Facebook page or make it private."

13News Now contacted all school districts in Hampton Roads, finding none of them plan on hiring companies to track students' social media.

"We're in the business of educating and not spying on students." Virginia Beach school board member Leonard Tengco remarked.

Money is another concern. " With the budget the way it is right now, we're just doing our best to protect teachers in the classroom from future budget cuts," school board member Bonita Harris said.

In Glendale Unified School district, it costs about $2.90 to monitor each student.  Tracking  Virginia Beach's more than 68,000 students would cost nearly $200,000.

But Sheehan thinks it's worth the expense. In the first year, the technology helped them save a life. "Through posting, long story short, we were able to get a student help before she harmed herself."

 

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