Monday, April 2, 2012

Facebook: The Evil Empire?

Parents, please tell me Why in the holy name of Steve Jobs when I asked my classroom of 10 and 11 year old 5th graders how many were on Facebook 20 little hands shot up?!? Accompanied by big grins and shouts of "and Youtube!" or "Tumblr too!" -- I'm all in favor of the iGeneration being digital from the womb, but aren't there age milestones they're supposed to hit before being immersed in the potentially confusing, sometimes sordid world of social media?

"Do we ban pencils because one wrote on a restroom wall? Why do we do that with Social Media in the classroom?"  --   @JulieDRamsey
So now the District wants to ban all teacher/student connections on Facebook. Which I agree with on the underage side, there's no reason Elementary students need to have to have anything to do with FB. But if my students' parents were big FB users I definitely would set up a class site in order to pass along info and connect all the parents.  For my middle school students and my sports teams, I think FB is an instant and effective tool when used to connect teachers/coaches and students.  I know they all have phones these days, but am I really supposed to sit down and call them all when one post keeps everybody up to date?

Yes, there are creeps in the world. Horribly bad people. If I caught any of these rat bastards preying on my students there would be a very public demonstration of my fury. Do I trust my sons' teachers and coaches? Absolutely: I've met them, talked to them, watched them. I have also discussed the real world with my children.  Do I trust every coach, teacher, scout leader? Hell no, and neither should you. I joked about not meeting a single parent for the first seven weeks of being a brand new, mid-year teacher, and I still have met less than half my students' parents, but it wouldn't be funny if I was a lousy teacher, or worse. Stop by, peek in, look around! I was visited often by fellow teachers and the Principal dropped in randomly, and although I was nervous and self-conscious, I support and encourage the practice.

Back to Facebook.  I have seen the crap teenagers post.  I have two teenagers at home that have posted crap and been called on the carpet for it, not only be me but by aunts and an uncle and friends that knew better and were able to give him a virtual "love tap" and remind him of the rules for proper behavior. But c'mon, they are teenagers and they are going to be rude, obnoxious, inappropriate, and laugh at stuff we do not find funny. They are going to be mean and hurt others. They do not share our values and our interests because we are adults and they are still children. ("Children" by the way, that know so much more about the world than you did at the same age. They've known stuff for years you just found out about last month. They know stuff that would curl your parents' toes and put your grandmother 6 feet under.)

Which is why we need to help them, to watch them, to protect them. We need to save them from themselves, from the other children who also need saving, and from the life-damaging pain of the predators. We need to read their posts and texts just like we read their diary and the notes found in their pockets on laundry day.  We need to view their pictures and videos just like we view the movies, tv shows, and video games.  We must watch what goes into their eyes and ears exactly like we watch what goes into their mouths and bellies.  And most importantly we need to teach them discernment, wisdom, good judgement, ideally through the greatest teaching method ever invented: setting an example.

But that's a rant for another day.

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