Online Social Networking
Fred Haller from Georgetown Visitation gave a very entertaining but sobering talk about online social networks. He noted that most people don’t realize that when a person accepts Facebook’s terms and conditions, they give Facebook ownership of everything they post – every word, picture or idea.He gave the group some ideas of the dangers that can occur even when just dealing with selected “friends” and provided parameters that parents could set. He was adamant that parents need to be a part of their children’s online experience and used the analogy of someone learning to drive: you would never let your child drive alone he or she has a fair amount of experience driving with you under their belts. Parents should also actively monitor what their children do online – and let them know before they start online that you may drop in from time to time. Secret sleuthing is not as effective as an open, honest relationship about what is expected online. He suggested that parents open their own facebook and require their children to “friend” them. Parents need to have the tools and experience to know how to guide and teach in the social networking and internet world.
The group broke out into two discussion groups: one for middle school and one for high school. The highlights from both groups follow:
Middle School Roundtable summary:
The Middle School group focused on text messaging and cell phone usage. While we recognized the benefits of staying connected and being more accessible we felt our pre teens were becoming socially inept with face to face conversations. They are loosing the “personal touch” and are sometimes quite rude, by texting during other conversations or not talking but texting in the car. Some of the Reps have specific house rules such as no cell phone usage after a certain hour or no phones at the table. One Rep said Verizon has parameters that can be [put in place such as no service between certain hours. One Rep said they have their child pay the phone/text bill. The opinion was that these kids are still developmentally immature and have too much coming at them to fast. Bottom line, talk, talk, talk to our kids – they will listen!
High School Roundtable summary:
The High School group primarily focused on the pitfalls associated with Facebook. The group felt today’s kids know so much about Facebook that any attempt to guide students must include new information to keep their interest. Stories must provide specific examples of how someone lost a job or didn’t get into a certain sorority, school or sports team. Facebook, like the computer in general, is a great networking tool but also a huge time sink: parents should be mindful of how much time their children spend on Facebook. Programs directed at high school kids should be presented by someone just a little bit older than the audience, for example, recent college grads, to gain credibility.