Playing Safe on Facebook
Zuckerburg is leading a contested debate. Zuckerberg believes that kids under 13 should be allowed on Facebook. My first thought that crossed my mind when I heard this was ‘what is the significance of that?’ Anyone under 13 will now just state their real age, as there are no background checks required to opening a Facebook account. I recently reflected on a recent video that I watched, Cyber Bullies in the Playground. What shocked the mother (and me) was that the cyber bullying started in Kindergarten. On the video a group of 8 – 10 year olds were talking about being cyber bullied and they commented that ‘this had been happening for years.’ The real fact of the matter is, you don’t have to have a Facebook account to be ‘Facebook bullied’.
Having children under the age of 13 ‘allowed’ on Facebook does not worry me. What concerns me is that I recently had a discussion with a University librarian who said that her job doesn’t just include teaching new University entrants how to format a Web document and navigate their way around the University webpage but it also includes showing these young adults how to activate the safety features on their Facebook account.
As parents, teachers and adults we have a responsibility to pass on how to keep a ‘safety net’ around us when we are on the Net. Banning and forbidding access is not going to solve the issue. Education is the solution. I recently listened to a primary teacher explaining how in Year 1 she develops age appropriate Net Safety skills with her students.
Facebook type platforms are common ways for the young generation to communicate and collaborate. A teaching friend of mine who teaches Year 5 uses edmodo, which is a secure social learning network for teachers and students.
I recommend reading, 10 Mistakes Teens Make On Facebook and What To Do About It, posted by Denise Terry. I particularly liked that Denise gave a solution that parents can initiate after each mistake is described.
This is an example of a great use of Facebook by a fellow teacher.
Many of my students are young foreign teenagers who are a long way from home. They can become depressed and if they post something that is of concern I act rather than pick up the pieces later. It is their option to add me to fb and personally I don’t read everything, or my hair would go white, but I often do a quick scan and many of them will message me to say a quick ‘hi’ if we are online at the same time. We actaully had one situation a few years ago that would have resulted in a tragic result if I had not acted when I did.