Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Should Middle Schoolers be on Social Networking Sites?

I just posted this on our Alliance Youth blog, but wanted to hear what your thoughts are too.

Is it a good idea? Are your middle schoolers/jr. highers on a social networking site? Most likely. I just got done reading a blog post by Dr. Laura It is a letter from a principal to the parents saying they should absolutely NOT have an account. The biggest reason he sites is the damage even just one mean comment has caused on so many students. One of the things I read was alarming.

5 of the last 8 parents who we have informed that their child was posting inappropriate things on Facebook said their child did not have an account.  Every single one of the students had an account.

It really has caused me to think about this. I think that for the reasons stated I may agree. I think about my daughter, who is about to enter middle school, and know that I definitely do not want her fragile heart to be wrecked because some other girl posts some mean thing on a picture or posting she has uploaded. It is hard enough in school, imagine how hard it is online when kids can be "bolder" in their words and actions because somehow they feel it's OK because they are not face to face. I love social networking, I'm a huge fan, an early adopter, but this really has me thinking about age appropriateness.

I would love to hear what you think. Click the link below and the poll will pop up. Speak more into this conversation in the comment area.
Is it a good idea?


Kevbo said...

It's not a matter of should they or shouldn't they be on social networking sites, but rather to what extent? There are some very powerful and positive aspects of social networking. My own decision to stay away from social networking stems from the reality that the social networking phenomenon has surpassed most people's ability to appropriately use it. Until people actually use it right, I want no part in it.

I think of my own classroom. Imagine how ridiculously amazing it would be to interect with people around the world, ask them about their cultures, learn about their history...directly from them! Social networking gives us the capacity to do so, but unfortunately, students have not been well-trained in how to use it for such an endeavor. Instead it is a "safe" way to tear each other apart.

The real problem is, society is never quite ready for the next big technological breakthrough. When Bell invented the telephone, Roosevelt thought is was cool, but useless. Calculators used to be seen as major distractions in the classroom. Now they are an essential school supply. Today in schools, we ban the use of cell phones. Truly, our mobile devices can be used as powerful learning tools: didn't get all the notes written down? take a picture of the whiteboard with your phone! Email yourself an assignment reminder right from class! Take a picture of a map in a textbook to complete an assignment at home! Unfortunately, students use phones to text each other in class, take video of inappropriate things that the teacher can't see, and cheat on tests. The solution, get rid of mobile devices altogether. I feel this is wrong. We need to TEACH our kids how to use their mobile devices as a learning tool, rather than get rid of them altogether.

I'd say the same thing about social networking. It has gone farther than we have trained our kids (and ourselves) to use properly. I would LOVE to embrace social networking as a tool in my classroom. But before I can do that, I need $20,000 to purchase a classroom set of iPads, so we CAN use the power of social networking. Wouldn't that be nice. Instead, we'll keep going as we are, and someone will throw away $20,000 in a law suit about inappropriate social network usage. Think of all the money we could save if we just trained our kids to use the tools they already possess.

HAHA, my comment was longer than your post. You asked for it!

Aurora said...

i think, no need for children to have account on network social networking sites. this is because, it is not important for them and They actually didn't need it. A lot of bad things happen than good for our child if they active in social networking sites. Hah! that's my opinion.

Krister said...

I'm a fan of various forms of social networking. I'm active on Twitter, enjoying figuring out Google Buzz, blogging on occasion... at the same time I also decided to close my Facebook account after my own lack of character and miss-use of this medium created wreckage in my personal life. (Let me be clear: my fault, not the medium.) Social networking is like many other aspects of life: full of all sorts of power, and if we are not very careful with how we wield the knowledge of good and evil we will bring more harm than good.

By way of direct comment, while I don't like the thought of trying to legislate morality...I am the father of 2 little boys. They're only 5 and 3 right now, but the thought of them entering into this sort of online "playground" and trying to navigate it in all its aspects...middle school just seems way too soon...

Erik, I'm so glad that you're exploring this. Great topic!

Rochelle said...

i agree with your sentiments.....fragile hearts are easily broken. the pressure to have an account will be great, but we have to do what is right for our kids!

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