The Social Web

January 21, 2008

So I had signed up on Facebook some time ago and thought that it was just fantastic! I got in touch with several people that I would have had no other way of finding because they had moved or married and changed their names or I just didn’t think to look them up. Now, I am reading all of these articles about the dangers of Facebook, such as Facebook Everywhere and The Evolution of Facebook’s Beacon.

Now I question whether I should be on Facebook and what information about me is really available to people that I don’t know? I have set my security settings so that only friends can access my profile and pictures and only include my email address in my contact information, but have I missed something? I see people all of the time that have all of their information open to anyone in Facebook, including home address and phone number. It is scary to think what kind of information children could be providing on this type of site. Children REALLY need to be taught what type of information is safe to give out and to whom. The problem is, on the web, you don’t really know who you are talking to for sure. I find the whole plethora of safety and privacy issues on the Internet very disconcerting because there are no clearcut answers at this time. There was also this blog “Professional Suicide” that opened my eyes to the problems of these tools for professionals.

In the article, “Social Networking: A New Tech Tool and a new Security Concern for Teens and Schools”, the author says “educators have long held the belief that technology is here to stay and that educating our teens to the wise use of technology makes the most sense. The successful adults of the future will be those who know how to incorporate the use of technology into all facets of their lives.” I agree that technology will definitely play some part in the success of our children’s futures, however, after several discussions with teachers, I don’t know if ALL educators see technology as here to stay and important.

I also found it surprising the author actually had his students lying about their age to sign up for online free email accounts to keep them safe from predators, but I am glad that he also recognizes that this was probably not the best way to teach students about “safe” computing. As seen in this quote, things are not always what they seem “It is ironic that what was developed as a tool for students to connect, share ideas, and be good “netizens” has evolved into a place that can be so powerfully negative and hurtful.”(Social Networking: A New Tech Tool and a new Security Concern for Teens and Schools)

This statement was profound for me: “Digital footprints exist and are real, and we must ensure that students understand that point.” I like this phrase, because we often don’t see that we are leaving a mark as we work our way through the numerous social networking tools available on the Internet today and we need to be aware of what that mark is actually saying about us. The author even mentions that future employers may view these sites as part of the hiring process – wow!

In the end, this school ended up blocking social-networking sites. The issue of how to deal with Internet use and education is a hot topic, but I agree with the author, that prohibition on these teens is probably just going to make it more enticing for them to pursue it in other arenas (i.e. at home) where they may not practice safe computing skills and then what have we really taught them? I am against banning or blocking these sites as a form of “educating” as it does not teach our children anything.

I feel very strongly about the issue of privacy and teaching safe computing skills on the Internet, however, I don’t know how this can be accomplished. I think that repitition throughout a student’s school career would help somewhat, but this is an issue that I plan to investigate further, especially since I am a new parent that will have to battle this issue in the very room that I sit in now 🙂

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5 Responses to “The Social Web”

  1. kolson29 Says:

    Thanks for linking to my post! I just posted an update on the situation and I would love if you could include this http://googtweetblog.edublogs.org/2008/01/21/came-clean-im-coming-out/

  2. nanoweb68 Says:

    Hi !!
    Thanks for visiting my blog and for your words. I believe there are many risks using new technologies, but we have to learn how to deal with this problem. This is a very good point, because new technologies involve the human factor, which is the core in education.
    I will see you on Face Book
    Luis
    http://socialworkineducation.wordpress.com/

  3. Mathman33 Says:

    Hi Connie,

    Recently a neighboring teachers’ federation has had an ethics complaint filed against a teacher for conduct unbecoming a professional because of what they saw on the facebook website. Another caution for all professionals with a code of ethics.

  4. Todd Volk Says:

    Connie, your comments are so true. It’s a position I feel strongly about as well. Because it seems so anonymous, students don’t give their actions a second thought. It’ll never happen to them, or they aren’t really hurting anybody. On the other side of the coin, it is so easy to set up accounts online with false information. As a test I once set up a hotmail account using the name BillyBob and my location was Alabama!

    The Media Awareness Network – http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/index.cfm – has many resources that teachers and parents can use to educate today’s youth. The key is to educate. As you said, repeat the knowledge to be safe. What we have for technology available is vast. People just need to learn to use common sense and be responsible.

  5. Tammy Sillers Says:

    Hi Connie,
    you raise some really good points. I have run into some issues with Facebook myself and the decision (a poor one I’ve discovered) to allow former students access to my profile. I had a student make a comment about a drink in my hand in a picture that I had not even posted, but that was posted by a friend. I was really uncomfortable with the comments…I’ve learned to be more discerning in who I allow access to my profile, and what is posted on my page.
    I’m curious about the neighbouring teachers federation and the issue they faced. Digital footprints indeed!!


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