Do creepy people only surf the web?
Inspired by the return to the cross-linking blog post conversation, like the Lehmann (via status update) to Shareski to Fisher to Utecht to Warlick posts about the value of audience, I’d like to bring together a couple of ideas that have come across my reader and my mind of late.
Like all schools, we talk about polices to keep our students safe online.
Recently, I came across the article from the NYTimes reporting on the study commissioned by 49 state attorneys in the US for the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University to look at the dangers for children in social networking. Their findings: on- and off-line bullying are real issues for students and online solicitation is no greater than it would be offline.
From the article:
…children and teenagers were unlikely to be propositioned by adults online. In the cases that do exist, the report said, teenagers are typically willing participants and are already at risk because of poor home environments, substance abuse or other problems.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t teach our students to be safe with their contact information, who they talk to, and how to protect themselves. Of course we should. But the typical blanket policy keeping student names away from photos may need re-thinking.
Dean Shareski’s very smart post (via Kim Cofino) reminded us how much we have always celebrated when our students are mentioned in the newspaper. As they win awards and scholarships, schools honor them in publications and even school websites. But do we provide this opportunity for all students?
One of Shareski’s district leaders replied,
There are kids with special talents that few people know about. What about them? I would bet our schools are full of kids like Tanner but their talent is in Art, or Drama, or Math, or Writing etc. Most kids probably don’t even know where their talent is! But if they did, would they be able to open the doors like Tanner has? How does a superior math student get “recruited” to a University? Can a dance student get into the National Ballet if nobody knows what they have accomplished? At some point everyone needs to “sell themselves” in a job interview, or a business proposal, or even a meeting with the bank manager for your first mortgage. If we can show kids that their accomplishments are to be proud of, and that the accomplishments are not anonymous, we can teach self confidence, and true self esteem.
Why didn’t I think of that?
No, really, why didn’t I? Why have I along with others never seen that side of it? If most believe it’s okay wonderful that students’ accomplishments are celebrated in the newspaper and on TV, why do we have such a problem attaching a kid’s face to a name? Have we deluded ourselves into thinking that predators don’t read the paper or watch television?
Do creepy people only surf the web?
Working with high school students on blogging this year, I have emphasized taking control of their online persona to present a side of themselves that their Facebook accounts probably don’t.
And the kids get this.
In fact, they want this. They see the value, they want their voice to be part of conversations and they want to be associated with intelligent writing, their passions, and their accomplishments. How can they do this if they don’t have a blog associated with their name and media associated with their joys and successes? They can’t and shouldn’t have to.
When schools develop or rethink online safety measures, their programs must educate children in stages (dare I say, build understanding?), gradually lowering the walls of their online gardens so that when they are wise enough to recognize threats, they are also given the opportunities to showcase themselves. At appropriate ages, students NEED to be able to put their name on things.
Not just because it’s theirs, but because they deserve to feel proud it’s theirs.