Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Special Edition: Teens and Social Media

One of the articles that caught my eye as I was opening my Google Reader this morning was an article from Edutopia. It was in response to a report about teens use of online social media. I started to leave a comment and it kept going and going. I wanted to share the article and my comment with you. You can use the links for the article and I've copy and pasted my comment here:

I hope this isn't too off topic and apologize to Chris if it is, but it's something that keeps coming up in my mind and (unfortunately) in the minds of many of us. One of the things that I keep struggling with is, if we are asking these kids to create a Google account (for Docs or Notebook) or a Teacher or YouTube account (to post their documentary), what happens when something goes wrong? Does it or could it ever come back on the school? If you are teaching them how to upload video to YouTube (which I've done in a classroom setting), and then they post something containing violent, threatening or sexual content on their own account, does the school face some responsibility? Even if they had, previous to the assignment, used the media? What happens if a school asks students to use a Gmail account to collect and share notes with Notebook, but then the student uses the email to send threatening messages to another student. We didn't teach him how to be disrespectful to the other person, but we inadvertently supplied him with the means.

I definitely feel that it is the parent's responsibility to know what their child is doing at home, but let's shoot straight: There are certain people in our society not afraid to sue anyone. Their child can do no wrong and it certainly wasn't parenting that made
the child who he or she is. It must be the school's fault!

As a male elementary teacher, I kept myself from hugging students because I was afraid a parent or staff member would walk by and take it the wrong way. Everyone who knows me knew I would do absolutely nothing to harm a student in my class or school, but school districts tend to cringe when parents and lawyers walk in the door

As an elementary teacher and in my current position of technology integration, I use and encourage the use of web tools with classes. But as our district discusses more and more how to utilize what students are already doing at home, it's always in the back of my mind to think about what could come back to haunt us. Sadly, because of how our society has become, I have a hard time thinking of the kids first in these situations.

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