Concern about student safety in the online environment continues to be an issue worldwide. In my previous post I referred to the tension between the responses of moral fear and digital faith. It appears that the proliferation of social networking sites and applications is a key driver of this.
This morning I’ve been reading report from the US National School Boards Association (pdf download) titled “Creating & Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social and Educational Networking” that reports ninety-six percent of U.S. students ages 9 to 17 who have internet access use social-networking technology to connect with their peers, and one of their most common topics of discussion is education. Not surprising in a way, since the report also finds that nearly all of the school districts surveyed (96%) say that at least some of their teachers assign homework that requires Internet use to complete.
Meanwhile, an article on the Wall Street Journal reports on a study found users of the Facebook social-networking site are too gullible in giving up personal information, which could make them the targets of identity theft. The researchers fabricated a Facebook profile and asked 200 Facebook users at random to give up personal information. Out of the 200 friend requests, Sophos received 82 responses, with 72% of those respondents divulging one or more e-mail address; 84% listing their full date of birth 87% providing details about education or work; 78% listing their current address or location; 23% giving their phone number; and 26% providing their instant messaging screen name.
All of which suggests to me that our efforts must go into an educating our students (and our teachers!) about what is appropriate behaviour online – rather than adopting the fear perspective and attempting to isolate them from it.