When social networking turns bad

SN_bad.jpg An interesting article in Education Week titled Friend or Foe? Balancing the Good and Bad of Social-Networking Sites draws attention (again) to the potential pitfalls of promoting the use of social networking in our schools and classrooms. It begins with a story of a group of students in a US school who are disciplined after photos of them shown drinking alcohol are discovered on a Facebook site. Since drinking alcohol is against the school rules, and the fact that Facebook is a public site, the school felt it had no option but to punish them.

The article argues that “educators must have a clear vision and guidelines for doing so, or they will face serious technical and legal pitfalls. And… schools have a role to play in educating students about safely and appropriately using such sites.” The writer lists the following tips for social networking use by educators:

  1. Establish a policy for dealing with incidents in which students break school rules and their inappropriate behavior is showcased publicly on social-networking sites.
  2. Outline clear guidelines for administrators that spell out how schools should discipline students based on information garnered from social-networking sites, and let parents and students know about those rules.
  3. Educate students about online-safety issues and how to use sites such as Facebook and MySpace responsibly
  4. Have a policy in place for dealing with cyber bullying.
  5. If teachers are using social-networking sites for educational purposes, they should establish clear guidelines for how they intend to communicate with students via those sites

. Some useful advice here, worth noting and acting upon.

3 thoughts on “When social networking turns bad

  1. Interesting points. I have been wondering if cyber safety needs to be added to the Keeping Ourselves Safe Police programme that many schools administer each year.

  2. Good point Marnie. NetSafe has provided input for the revision of the KOS programme which is currently underway. Look out for cybersafety inclusions in the new programme.

  3. Hi Derek

    I read your post with much interest as I have just been thinking about this myself – from the other side of this issue.

    Many of my friends are teachers also and I am ASTOUNDED at the stuff they write on their facebook pages and that most are connected to the pages of students they currently teach.

    Some of the stuff they are posting is pretty unprofessional – ie. weekend exploits, drunken photos etc. Also, many have links videos and pictures of stuff I wouldn’t be comfortable being seen to condone by my students.

    It strikes me that many people are calling for students to be educated in the consequences of their online behaviour, but I am wondering who is going to actually teach this – although these teachers are all young and bordering on ‘digital natives’ themselves who is teaching them what to teach the kids. From what I have seen they are not in a position to be teaching students about this stuff either.

    I would have expected this stuff to be common sense and the thought of teaching teachers what to teach students about this seems kind of crazy!

    I have a Facebook page that is viewable by anyone in the New Zealand network. I post nothing that I wouldn’t want anyone to see – my principal, my students or my mum! I will accept friendship requests from students who have left school (high school) if they ask me.

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