Thursday, February 16, 2006

Informing Parents about Online Social Networking Sites

I did a random poll of an 8th grade class last month. All but one student in the class knew about the popular social networking site, all but she had visited this popular teen hang-out, and five of the students in the class had their own accounts. I did not ask if they were over 14, the magic age for use of the site.

One of the middle school guidance counselors came to see me and wants to set up an informational workshop for parents to let them know how these social networking sites work, and, more importantly, how much information about their child could potentially be being shared with the world. We have already drafted a letter to the middle school parents and sent it home, and are in the process of creating one for high school parents.

The parent education piece is not new for us. We have held instant-messaging workshops, to help parents keep their children safe, and also host a district safety page for parents.

The Hartford Courant has been covering the online social networking sites in a series of articles that are interesting, informative, and disturbing to read. As a parent and an educator, I applaud their efforts to educate the public. Here are links to a few of the articles:

  • Risky Spaces
  • How Parents Can Monitor Postings

    Here is another good article from a Lehrer Newshour Special with students which aired this week.

    Does anyone have any material they have developed for their school or district which they would like to share?

    Kathy Schrock

    Audio file of this post from Talkr.