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May 01, 2010


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Lisa Burscheidt

Wow. I think, in internet speak, this is what we call an epic fail.

Laura Pearle

His comments make sense for those under 13 ("You will not use Facebook if you are under 13") - and honestly, don't we want to encourage students to have healthy F2F relationships before delving into the really confusing online world? I'm not saying he's got it *all* right, and his reasoning is askew, but if I had a child, they wouldn't be participating in social networking until they were in at least 8th grade.

Phil Bradley

Hi Laura,
Thanks for the different viewpoint, which is appreciated. There are many different social media networks out there - not just Facebook. Blanket bans are thoughtless and lazy. I don't see why children shouldn't explore relationships of all types - why try and differentiate between a 'real' and a 'digital' lifestyle? Like it or not, a relationship INCLUDES both F2F and computer based interaction. This guy is just trying to handicap the children in his care.

Besides, and this is worth emphasising.. you can't stop children participating in social networking. If they can't do it in a safe environment at home, they'll explore it at their friends homes. You cannot stop this happening - the best you can do is realise it and work with it, trusting your child & having your child trust you.

Gwyneth Jones

Teens at risk using the Internet are teens already at risk. Parents of at risk teens may have to make hard choices - but the most effective, reliable, Internet safety filter is an involved, informed, and aware parent and an educated and ethical kid. COPPA a was created for a reason..the kid UNDER age 13.

We have to have those ongoing conversations about a positive digital footprint but not by enacting Draconian rules that will alienate the teen trigger any desire to be oppositional. Social networks aren't going away...we must work with them rather than against them.

Helen Keller said that "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.... Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"

There is no safe, there is only AWARE.

This guy doesn't seem very aware. My 2 cents.


"Over 90% of all homework does not require the internet, or even a computer."

The sheer fact that the school's website has a link to Blackboard indicates that information necessary to study or complete homework assignments might very well be online. And I would imagine that middle school students are writing papers - by hand? Yeah, right.


Why is it the responsibility of the school to bring bullying under control? Why don't parents take responsibility. I think that is all this principal is trying to do. He is encouraging parents to take control of what their children are doing. You may not agree with banning social media, and you probably don't work with kids. I don't think that banning social media is the answer, but parents do need to be sure to know what their children are doing. Not all suggestions in the principal's letter are unreasonable. Parents need to start parenting their children.

Phil Bradley

Sharon - it's the responsibility of the school because.... it's a school! That's what schools do - they *educate* children. They certainly need to educate children in areas where parents are less knowledgeable, be that work on computers or European history.

So, you don't agree with banning social media - good. In essence then, you don't agree with what this chap is saying. You do however agree with parents locking up mobile phones and allowing children no privacy, and checking everything that they do - and therefore, not offering any trust in what their children do. OK, that's your call, and while I agree with 'parents need to start parenting their children' I'm not entirely convinced this is the best way to go about it.


From a position of expertise (my pre-librarianship PhD was in the study of technologies to support homework, and the home-school relationship) I think this principal risks angering a proportion of the parents he's addressing. His stance is patronising towards parents (a proportion of whom I suspect know a lot more about the Internet than him) and distrustful of their children.

Why would you risk alienating families in this way? A much more even-handed and reasonable approach would be to educate parents. Worried that they don't know what their children are doing? Give them the knowledge to make their own decisions about how to handle the dangers (and benefits) of social networking, without being prescriptive.

Robert de Jong

The thing that bothers me the most about this article is "homework doesn't require the internet" as my experience as a librarian is quite the opposite.

Most schools in the area have an annoyng tendency to give the same assignments to several classes, both the local schoollibrary as the public library are generally left out of the loop when it comes to informing them about this. There are never enough books for all these students as a result and more often than not they go home empty handed. We can order books from other libraries but that can take several weeks, especially if the assignment is a countrywide exam requirement.

So yeah, go online, because failling class because of a rigid and old-fashioned view on access to the internet is counterproductive for all involved.

Roger Farbey

I can't think of any single act that would make illicit use of social media on the web more appealing to teenagers other than to impose a 'ban' on it. Does a ban on underage smoking actually stop it? This is really a well-intentioned own goal. Life is all about risk and taking draconian measures like this isn't going to solve anything or reduce the risk. Maybe offering to teach youngsters how to use the Internet safely would be a more sensible approach, like offering them instruction in other extramural activities such as cycling skills or swimming. The internet is not just going away.

Lacy J

I can see both sides, but I think his response is naive, draconian, short-sighted and based on several false premises (90%? I think not...).


>Let's leave aside the dreadful grammar and composition, because they're just cheap shots.<

No, they are not. This man is a principal and that's an e-mail he sent to parents. To me, that's a far more egregious problem than his actual proposition. How does he expect anyone to take him seriously?

Tony Fish

First - why do kids love technology?

answer, as it is a place where parents don't have control ( this is form real research not some made up by me on a whim). For me it was the woods at the end of my garden. Every generation has its place to hide and explore. Are the woods more dangerous today?

Second to address a few of the points

what would you prefer...

1. someone who lies about their past
2. someone who hides their past
3. someone who is honest about their past
4. someone who is proud of their past

history is a great way to show how you have changed and matured, grown up, learnt to manage risk

Your history is not your millstone - it is why your have your values.

explore with the natives. My parents talk to my kids using the same technology.


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