Saturday, January 20, 2007

Is Social Networking Really THAT Scary?

I watched over my niece's shoulder while she was looking at her Facebook page at grandma's house. It really didn't look so scary. As I said in my Christmas day post, she has protections in place to keep her information relatively private.
Social networking has become a victim of our fear-focused society. Opponents, like Chuck Favata in a recent Learning & Leading with Technology column, cite the danger of pedophiles. In reality, the number of children being solicited on-line is dropping while the number of kids using social networking sites is skyrocketing. According to a report recent published by the Pew Internet research project, 55% of online teens are using social networking sites. Isn’t a bit like sticking our heads in the sand to say that we don’t want to address them in schools?! To read more about the safety concerns, check out this blog by Scott McCleod.

We need to talk more to students about the specific dangers of posting personal information on the Internet. According to a report from Missing Kids, about half of parents are talking to their kids about this issue, but only about one-third of kids report hearing about it at school.

We are in a race to reinvent our schools and make them more relevant to today’s kids. Shouldn’t we be looking for creative, responsible ways to harness the power and excitement of social networks instead of putting them on the shelf because we are too scared to figure out how to do it safely?

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Scott McLeod said...

Laura, this is a great post. Of course I'm biased since I agree with you that we should be finding better ways to think about social networking software (and other tools) than simply shutting everything down and prohibiting access. When we do that, kids then only learn from their peers how to use these tools appropriately. We know that few parents are doing this. So the question becomes, "Do we want to leave this to the kids to figure out on their own or do we want / need to be involved?"

Thanks for the link!

Laura B. Fogle said...

Absolutely, we want to be involved as learning guides in this process! We, as educators, need to get over fear of not knowing all the ins and outs of the technology. We need to partner with the kids. They can teach us about the technology and we can share the ethics and learning connections.