Saturday, February 03, 2007

Protecting Children From Technology?

Educators and parents spend a tremondous amount of time tyring to protect their children from evils, including the Internet. Should we continually and completely block and protect kids from the Internet?

Children need to be exposed to technology and not protected from it. Last week I was discussing the use of blogs with my grade seven computer info class. I was explaining to them that I was contemplating incorporating the use of blogs into our class, but that I was a little concerned about privacy and purpose. Later when the students had some free time to check their student email and Blackboard, one of the students showed me his friend’s blog. At the same time a student beside me, showed me his piczo website. Both of these sites were filled with pictures, names, comments… I was pleased and concerned at the same time. I spend a tremendous amount of time checking our media/Internet forms to ensure that kids have permission to have their pics on our school website. After viewing these two student sites, I noticed one particular picture of a student. This particular student’s parents have emphatically stated on their Internet form that they do not want any pictures of their child on the Net. Is it my responsibility to ensure that our students are not violating the privacy of other people? What should I do now? Most teachers have no understanding of blogs, piczos,.. I can’t possible police what kids are putting on the Net at home. I did spend quite some time talking to both students and then the entire class about placing things on the Internet. I think that now, I should get the kids to create blogs and/or sites and teach them about privacy and permission, even though there are no hard fast rules. It is crucial for us to take the lead. If most educators don’t understand what kids can do on the net, I can assume that there are just as many, or more parents, who are unaware.


Dean Shareski said...


This is critical. While we know the importance of teaching about privacy, ethics and how and why to post information, we battle ignorance. For example here's a quote from a blog post today:

* 1 in 5 teenagers have not been sexually solicited by online predators, nor is the Internet full of sexual predators.
* Cell phones are not dangerous!
* IM is not insidious!
* MySpace is not a blog!
* and just because a child prefers that her parents not read her chat messages over her shoulder does not necessarily mean that she’s doing anything wrong.

Cyber-safety is too important an issue to be misrepresented for the sake of scare impact.

Added later:
The 1 in 5 statistic above refers to a study that was published a few years ago, that stated that 1 in 5 online teens have been sexually solicited while online. The study was almost immediately debunked because of the questions that were asked. However, people continue to cite the finding, and wrap it within discussions about online predators, implying that one in five has been approached by predators. It’s a scare tactic!

I applaud you for diving in and also the types of conversations or "teachable moments" you are having are exactly what will help kids understand the complexities and powerful of the Read/Write web. Also you may a great point about kids already posting pictures, so why not become involved and show them what's appropriate and what's not.

B.Davis said...

We cannot protect or students from technology- in fact thinking that we have the savvy to warn our students of the pitfalls is sort of like saying that we can warn a racecar driver of a pothole during the race. It is impossible. There are too many and they come at them too fast. What we can do is reshape and rethink our curriculum in order to provide our students with the tools (common sense) to make these decisions as educated young men and women.

I also applaud you and anyone else who is constantly finding new ways to break down the restricting walls of the classroom.