GLENDALE, Calif. (KTLA) – Glendale public educators are starting the new academic year off with the expansion of a program that monitors student activity on social media sites, school district official said Tuesday.
Some 13,000 middle and high school students in the Glendale Unified School District who post publicly on sites such as Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook will be affected by the policy, according to the district.
“The end goal is always student safety,” Superintendent Richard Sheehan said.
Social media posts related to potential harm to students — whether from themselves or others — or to bullying or “inappropriate sexting” will be examined, Sheehan said.
The school district is using a service called Geo Listening, which is meant to ward off problems such as cyberbullying, Sheehan said.
An agreement with the Hermosa Beach company, which will be paid about $40,000 for the service, was approved by the school board earlier this month.
Geo Listening bills itself as a social media monitoring program that helps schools get “tuned into” students.
“Your students are crying for help,” the company writes on its website. “We have heard these cries of despair, and for help and attention, loud and clear from students themselves via their public postings on social networks.”
Some parents have been critical of the program, saying it intrudes on students’ lives. But one parent said the fact that the monitoring will only focus on posts that are made public to all assuages some concerns.
“I don’t think it’s as Big Brother-ish, because it’s not private,” said parent Christina Ng-Watson. “This is stuff that is public; it’s for anyone to be seen out there.”
Several Glendale schools tested the program in the 2012-13 school year. Geo Listening’s daily reports were helpful to the district, Sheehan said.
“There have been specific incidents in which we have been able to intervene … and prevent harm to a student,” Sheehan said.