Richard McCully

Is taking student photos a wise idea?

Think carefully if it's just to boost your social media presence

I’ve seen so many photos and videos online where foreign teachers have captured moments with their Thai students. The issue I have is whether this interferes with child safety and other protection issues. 

Pictures can say a thousand words but also they can be used for the wrong reasons. Taking pictures or video of children without their parent’s consent should raise concerns. 

Health and safety gone mad? Do we read too much into a simple photo? Where should we draw the line in terms of what is acceptable for teachers to do with students? 

Would you want your kid’s photo shared online? 

If you had a child and their teacher was taking their photo and sharing it online would you be happy? 

I probably would be if it was on an official school account. If my kid had won a badminton tournament at school and was photographed collecting a trophy I’d be proud. If they were photographed with their teacher in a random class photo and pasted across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on their teacher’s private social media account, I’d be marching to the school office demanding to know why this was allowed to happen. 

If my kid’s teacher had posted a photo with my child to talk about how they were “influencing” students here or “spreading the word” of whoever then I’d be angry. If they were leveraging photos of school children for likes, followers, retweets and whatever else I’d think that was pretty disgusting.

Children can’t consent

Can children who are five, nine or thirteen consent to their photos or video footage going onto social media? No, they can’t. Their parents can if they are shown the images and sign off on them. 

These days it’s so quick and easy to add photos or video to social media but, as teachers, we need to think if it’s the right thing to do. 

I hope your school has a social media policy which protects children and their rights. 

Picture privilege 

Are you taking pictures of your under-18 students to put on social media? Are you showing friends back home what you’re up to whilst in the classroom in Thailand? If so then I’d suggest that this behavior wouldn’t be tolerated in your home country. In fact, as mentioned above, many parents would be calling for your head. However as a foreigner you’ll probably get away with it here.  

Try doing this in the West and you’ll be on the fast track to a firing. Many organizations  put social media photo postings of students on the list of ultimate no-nos for teachers. Here it seems many foreigners get away with it.

Your friends know you’re in Thailand, you don’t need to put pictures of under-18s on your social media.  Put that picture of you wearing elephant pants online, show yourself eating sticky rice, blog about your annoyances with the visa process but leave the pictures of students under 18 off the internet.

Adults have rights too

It’s not just children who have rights when it comes to you uploading photos and videos online. You should get consent from adult students too.  

Perhaps you won’t get as many complaints from adult students about their photos being put online and they have the ability to say no to being in pictures. However, perhaps they don’t know you’ll be adding these photos to social media. 

You should at least check with students if they are happy to add their photo online. In some countries you’ll need students to sign a waiver to put their photos online. 

Social Media Restraint

I’d be very careful when it comes to posting anything about your students or school online. There are lots of examples of teachers here putting things online directly about their students or schools and getting into trouble. 

Posting photos of students, especially under-18s, is a big risk and something which should be avoided. Think about what you’re doing when positing pictures of children online. It might be totally innocent but these children do have rights and as a teacher you should respect those. 

Check with your school what their policy is in regards to taking photos and video of students and if there isn’t one try to get one made. Students are there to learn from teachers, not to be the stars of the teacher’s social media feeds. 

 If you enjoyed this blog, check out my website - Life in a New Country  

Richard is co-author of a great new book on planning a life in Thailand. 

Planning your new life in Thailand isn’t easy. There are many hurdles to jump and potential frustrations galore. From practicalities through to cultural issues, from finances to fitting in and making friends, there is so much to learn. Luckily, you will find all the basics explained in this 282 page book. 

Settling in Thailand takes a broad, insightful and balanced approach – neither too cynical nor evangelical, this book sets a precedent in terms of presenting a positive but realistic and non-judgemental description of Thailand life for foreign residents. 

Written by two British expats in Thailand, and with interviews with another 13 expats from around the world, you will get first-hand experience, advice and explanations of expat life in Thailand. With a combined 150 years of Thai experience this book is the ultimate guide to making sure your move and settling in Thailand goes smoothly.

Order now in e-book or paperback format.


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