#236 Do you think the school should be using facebook like this?
Friday 26th February, 2010
Bit of an issue for you. My sister’s school (she is 10) has a school Facebook group set up by a PE teacher. Kids are encouraged to join in. School sports events are put up and so on. I use facebook at Uni but now find I have to be careful about what mates post as my kid sister is on there. Do you think the school should be using facebook like this? It has a web page.
(From JayJay in reply to the post Is it love?)
In the same week where we debate the ‘over sexualisation’ of children, our rather rose-tinted perspective of childhood, and the ‘right time’ to talk the sex education talk, your ‘issue’ JayJay is a timely and pertinent one. Oh, how the times have changed. I was seven or eight when I was allowed to the local shops on my own. Purchases were always procured with a Beano in one hand and then something cake like and squidgy in the other. Which made the carrying of whatever I had been ‘sent out on a mission’ for rather tricky, but an endlessly entertaining skill set for one so young.
Today, you go to the local shop and it’s all exposed bits n bobs. Beano seems hidden behind a collection of lads and gals mags more suited to a gynochological exam. Less the personificaiton of sophisitcated seduction and more ‘boobs n willies’. Quite the adolescent sexualised preference. And what does this say about the ‘grown ups?’
So, as I put my 1983 Beano issue to one side, and return to your school based Facebook grouping. I am surprised that the school is ‘OK’ with such a presence. I wonder if this is an ‘official’ page and if you are concerned (as I would be) I would contact the Head over its existence, if only to sound out your concerns and suggest that perhaps such pages should be adult only – especially when we consider that under 10’s are NOT allowed on Facebook. There’s more than a breaking of the school rules here. On the other hand, one can only applaud the ‘community’ and group based contact the teacher in question is trying to bring together. On too many occasions have I had teacher’s who were more interested in the bottom of their coffee cup rather than pushing any level of social contact or ‘extra-curricular’ activities. In short, I would surmise that from the teacher the sentiment is levelled in the right way, but could be implemented better. Safer.
Since the ‘deal’ was struck with Facebook (we signed up and sold our social information souls), then social networks have come to signifiy a supposed elimination of social barriers and a coming together. I am sure that Mr M.Zuckerberg can be herald as the champion of the promise of ever sophisticated standards of social networking, but only in exchange for a quiscent community, accepting of surveillance and scraped personal data. Not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. BUT too much of a challenge for a 10 year to take on board on any serious level; when all they want to do is ‘chat’ with their friends. That your sister is already on Facebook should be the issue. Having a Facebook Profile is no doubt important for her, and a necessary in a social world led by various technology and what her friends are up to. I suspect she’s after / has an iPhone too. Perhaps all good parents should provide these in party bags.
Regarding any information that your sister may come across and/or have access to, aside from deleting her account (this won’t go down well) then it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that you check that any feeds to her are ‘clean’ and of the best possible taste. You, and her, are a part of that Facebook deal now; where your connectoins come to signify various social standards and choice (Hers: how many friends do I have? Yours: how many parties have I been invited too?) It will be HARD to explain to a 10 year old why you may have reservations about her presence on Facebook. Signal instead a to lead by example approach. IF she see’s that you are ‘careful’ with your information it is likely that she shall follow suit. Later on, you can over-analyse her friendship with sandpit boy and the tagged photos of party bags from her latest outing. Later still you can co-manage her ‘relationship status’. But this is not until she is at least in teenage years!
Back to that nostalgic trip to the shops. I have since found out that what I thought was my first little independent adventure was actually accompanied. My father followed, bush-to-bush, along the opposite side of the road and ducking behind the conveniently placed phone boxes/old ladies/cars. From his perspective this was a long-term project. A letting go of the apron strings, but also to see whether I could be trusted to return successfully with whatever charge he had given me. Years later it’s the not the going to the local shops that presents the only concern. Online, things seem ever more risky and parents are left to make the rules up as they go along. And there’s no convenient cars to hide behind.