Friday, October 17, 2008

Congress opts for educating students over blocking Web sites and social networks

Congress opts for educating students over blocking Web sites and social networks

Saying that this is a triumph of common sense and local control goes a little too far. It would be common sense NOT to have a bill that addresses this. However, I guess when seen in contrast to many bone-headed bills considered and passed, this one isn't too bad.

Should we really have to legislate teaching students how to best use computers and the networks that connect them? This seems quite obvious to me. Common sense would say that this should be part of every schools role as socializer of youth.

On the other hand, people often point to telephones and say, "do we teach students how to use telephones in responsible ways"? The answer is not really, but until recently students' telephones didn't come into the school. Now, we do teach them (in some ways) about the proper use of telephones. At the very minimum, we teach them that it is not ok to use telephones in class or when it interrupts the educational experience for anyone.

I hate to give teachers even more responsibilities, but this would be easy to insert into any and all computer-based activities that teachers utilize. Just mentioning things in passing like, don't give your contact information to strangers, don't leave your online social networking account open to the public (friends only), don't put anything online that you wouldn't be comfortable with your mother seeing, electronic data is easy to copy and distribute and anything bad you do will likely get back to a person you don't want to see it, and so forth.

If the schools want to take it a step further, have programs dedicated to this. Search for student pages or fish for friend invites and shock them that you so easily entered their space. I don't agree with showing the whole school their embarrassing details, but drop a comment on their page or just mention that you got access in a meeting. This will wake them up. If it doesn't, ask them if it would be ok to give their parents a link...that will probably seal the deal.

We are still in the trial and error stage here. Things change too fast to come up with any solid advice on how to educate students in this area. However, we can't just leave it to the streets. We will end up with a generation of digitally pregnant and drug addicted (metaphorically) citizens.

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