Wednesday, May 16, 2007

FaceBook Is Different

In my post (rant) yesterday about blocking social networking sites, Justin Medved commented with a link to Mark Evans' blog (A Canadian Take on Telecom and Technology) entitled "Facebook Is Different." I read the article with interest, initially because I yearn for an educational reason to utilize the usual suspects. In his post, he explains how Facebook is useful in business settings, despite the fact that it is increasingly being blocked by companies fearful that their employees are wasting time.

This raises several issues, the first of which, as Justin mentions, is trust. It's the basic reason why we block porn here at school. We're pretty sure that the occasional porn site accessed by a 1st grader is an accident, while the majority of incidents involving older children are, well, exploratory in nature. For instance, last week, I had turned off our proxy server on one machine in my lab in order to download a fussy update. Wouldn't you know it, a child sat down on that computer later in the day and googled "sex + vegetables." I'm not making this up for fun blogging. On the one hand, bully for him using Boolean logic. On the other hand, he ALMOST accessed a photo of a woman having sex with a vegetable. Thank goodness I stopped him.

Justin is right, it's an issue of trust...on the most basic existential level: human nature. Do you trust that children will use their time and the technology in the most educational and useful ways when given free reign? Answer that one for yourself. I'd get in waaayyy too much trouble if I said what I really thought.


Kim Cofino said...

This is a good question...

I guess my perspective is that we are not giving them free reign in school. We, as teachers, are responsible for supervising them - and more importantly, teaching them how to behave when they do have totally free reign, possibly at home.

So, for me, the question becomes: how do we empower both teachers and students to use technology appropriately all the time?

If we filter at school we're basically teaching them that they can't learn how to filter for themselves, right?

Alecia Berman-Dry said...

I suppose I feel that this kind of freedom should come at an age when other freedoms are granted to them: drinking, driving, etc, (obviously not at the same time). Before such a time, are naturally going to be curious about dangerous sitations and sites. This is when the education comes in, where we guide students to those sites and situations, while holding their hands and explaining it all along. The question we need to know the answer to as educators is this--At what age are children developmentally able to individually deal with the graphically disturbing material they will inevitably face online? When do they not need a hand to hold?