Facing Facebook…

I am an avid “Facebooker”. There is hardly a day that I do not pop in to check my news feed and see what’s happening to my “Friends”. Quite often I post a status message, but not always – just when I feel like it. Unfortunately though, I pop in a for a “quick” look and before I know it I’ve lost 30 minutes or more, reading all the status updates, checking new photos added, ‘liking’ pages and more. The reality of it is that Facebook is a time thief – 10 minutes turns into an hour in the blink of an eye, stealing what could be productive time; time which could have been put to far better use, if one had to be honest, that is. It is also a fantastic social networking tool and has enabled me to connect with people I haven’t seen or spoken to in 30 years and it is for that very reason that I can’t resist it.

However, neither of the above is why I am writing this post today. I have just come across a post (thanks to Twitter – another one of my “vices”), by Vicki Davis or @coolcatteacher which touches on aspects of Facebook which I have brought to the attention of our parents and our staff – the issues of ‘friending’ our own children and the ‘friending ‘of our students.

Before I carry on, let me say that the Internet is NOT and does not have to be the huge ogre that it is made out to be. It is an awesome resource which, when used wisely and responsibly, is the most amazing tool available to children adults alike. It is our duty as parents and teachers to give our children the tools to make use of this wonderful resource in a safe and responsible way. However, the consequences, when it is NOT used responsibly or in an unmonitored manner, can be very nasty indeed.

Back to Vicki’s post. It is an excellent read and provides some excellent insight into the Friend settings on Facebook, many of which most people are not aware. She also touches on the issue of underage Facebook users, which is something close to my heart. I’m a real stickler for following rules as I believe that rules are put in place for a reason. If you may only be on Facebook from the age of 13, then so be it. That is why my own daughter does not have a Facebook profile – she’s only 12, and I will cross that bridge when she turns 13. As for parents who allow their underage children on Facebook, well I have always advocated that these parents should ‘friend’ their children with the idea that they can keep an eye on their children’s Facebook activity as a protective measure. Vicki’s post has put a completely new spin on this and gives excellent reasons as to why this is possibly not a great idea.

Vicki also addresses the issue of teachers ‘friending’ their students. I do not approve of this, as I feel it is unprofessional, especially at primary school level when there is a great difference between teacher and child in terms of interests and experience, not to mention age. Do your students really need to know what you did last weekend or what your friends have to say about you? I think not, but that is my personal opinion entirely.

Please read her article for yourself. Whether you disagree or not, it makes good reading: Cool Cat Teacher Blog http://bit.ly/gstwVV

For similar or related posts:

Unsocial Social Media – http://bit.ly/hMwuct

Why Teachers Need to Use Social Media – http://bit.ly/gSr

Virtual ‘hanging with friends’ (where, when, how…) – http://bit.ly/f83qpO

What’s the right age to give a child a cell phone? – http://bit.ly/fphnJd

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About Karen Stadler

A teacher with 28-odd years' experience, who is passionate about ICT and all things technological! I am very interested in global classrooms, blogging, iPads and ICT integration. Always looking for new ideas, I am a lifelong learner!

Posted on March 26, 2011, in Facebook, Parenting, Safety in Cyberspace, Social Networking, Technology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. @ICT Integrator, my fear is that Vicky’s policy is too complex and will scare many others from harnessing the power of social media. I explain an alternate way to look at this with, “The World’s Simplest Social Media Policy” at http://t.co/Ww9zYzk

    I’ve talked to kids and teachers about using social media and those that do say it strengthens the teacher – student connection. You can read how here http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/02/10-ways-students-feel-facebook.html

    I’ve also shared how a first grade teacher set up a class page to strengthen the home-school connection and many of her elementary school teacher peers followed her lead which you can read about here http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2010/07/8-real-ways-facebook-enriched-ms.html

    I write about this topic a lot. I believe adults and students need to occupy the same worlds online just like they do in life. If you want to read more about that you can read all the articles I’ve written on the topic here http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/search/label/Facebook%20in%20education

  2. Many thanks for the link! Really interesting article & I’m off to read Vicki’s now!

  3. @ Julia – Thank you!

    @ Lisa – I always find your posts extremely interesting and definitely food for thought. I found the one about the Grade 1 class especially interesting. Facebook is blocked at our school – not because of the concerns we have about predators etc, but because of the fact that it can be such a time thief, as mentioned in my post above – especially amongst the staff. We also have bandwidth issues here in South Africa, but that’s a different story altogether.
    Keep posting – and I’ll keep reading!

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