being a teacher, internet safety

I Found 8 Students on Facebook…

It finally happened; in a passing conversation my principal mentioned Facebook and one of our students.  Curious I jumped onto my account typed in the name and there it was; his profile for the whole world to see.  No protection, no privacy, but all the information you could want about this 10 year old kid.  I noticed he had more than 800 friends and so I scrolled through and sure enough about 8 more of our 5th graders showed up and even some 4th and 3rd graders.  Yes, I felt like a creepy stalker but also I couldn’t help but think why hadn’t anyone taught them about their privacy settings?  I shouldn’t be able to see his pictures, his walls, his friends

This post is not to debate the merits of Facebook.  I think a lot of 5th graders are on there, whether they should be or not.  It is to discuss how we are not able to teach them the safety lessons they need when we stick our head in the sand and pretend they are not.  I have written about it before and it continues to irk me.  As a school we do internet safety, sure, which mainly teaches the kids how scary the Internet is, instead of devoting our time to teaching them how to use the internet properly.

Now some may argue that it really is the job of a parent, but with Facebook changing its privacy policy more times than I change shoes, can you blame them if they are as confused as their kids?  So I propose that we as teachers figure out a way to teach the safety and proper privacy policy of Facebook.  Maybe not in younger grades than 5th although my searching found 8 year olds on there, but there needs to be some sort of open discussion.  There needs to be some sort of acknowledgement that these young kids are on there and that we need to teach them to do it right.

I have used Edmodo with my students and my students are probably more internet savvy than most other 4th or 5th graders.  And while I like Edmodo one drawback is that my students don’t have control over their own settings.  I set it all up so that they are protected.  I decide what they can post and who they can post to.  Edmodo is a step yes, but it is not enough simply because it is not the wide-open world of Facebook  We don’t expect kids to learn how to drive by keeping them on a bumper-padded closed course either?  Instead, we take them into the real world and navigate it with them, we need to do that with Facebook.  Facebook comes with such immense responsibility; why are we skirting ours when it comes to teaching safety?

4 thoughts on “I Found 8 Students on Facebook…”

  1. Don't feel like a creeper – better you, a trusted adult, than God knows who. Yes, these are the domains of parents, but we are also responsible for their safety and their learning. I commend you on your dedication to the students and that you handled it in a way that was made them think without scaring them.

  2. I appreciate your blog on this topic. I can't agree more. Why are we sticking our head in the sand. Lets harness their actions by using as a teachable moment. Some may argue that Facebook isn't part of "our curriculum" but it is! Our curriculum calls for us to guide students in life skills. Facebook for our digital natives is considered a life skill.

  3. I thought that there was a 13 year old age limit for Facebook. And I realize that kids lie about their age, but shouldn't that also be part of the discussion? I know last year I was getting invites from former students who are now in Middle school to join a social networking. I think they mailed everyone in their address book. I checked it out and it was a dating service for 16 year olds and older. Our MS principal sent out a letter to parents and talked with the kids about it. It really is creepy and scary what some of the students get involved in and parents aren't aware.

  4. However I appreciate your concerns, I don't agree with your action. Seems you've acted as a police who has found criminals! We live in digital age and Facebook like other technological development has pros and cons. While our students eager to Facebook, ok! Let them use, but teach them properly. Facebook can be dangerous as mobile phone can be. Are you going to ask students not useing that? It depends how we use technology. Instead of being suspicious to our students, let's teach them how they can use technology in their life and their sturdy.

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