Friday, December 31, 2010

Dangers of Social Networking

In my previous post on Facebook I discussed many of the benefits and some of the educational uses. Here you can see an example of how my school uses Facebook for the Spanish National Honor Society. I blocked out the names and pictures of students to protect their privacy.
The students post who is tutoring each week, what service opportunities are available, and any other updates for the honor society. It's also a great place for some of the kids (who actually want to) to practice their Spanish! The group is only editable by members who have been invited, and there are two other teachers plus myself who are administrators of the group. This is one of the more positive uses of the site!

Unfortunately, their are many dangers with the social networking site as well. School-age students do not seem as worried about posting pictures, personal information, and even contact information. Families who do not understand the technology are usually not monitoring it, so children are free to roam cyberspace meeting people who may or may not have their best interest in mind! To check out some of the dangers, check out this article from CBS.

Facebook has so many security settings now, but you have to continually update them to be stricter. In the past when there was a privacy update, your settings would revert to the default and everyone could see your information! That has now been changed, thankfully!
Monitoring students is probably one of the biggest issues with using Facebook, especially as students get older. I truly believe that the technology should be utilized if we teach our students how to properly use it and the etiquette that goes along with its use. See the video below that is a good reminder for students (cheesy, but good)!
Check out a site called Failbook (caution: some material is inappropriate, but gives a good glimpse into what is posted regularly on the site) that pokes fun at some of the images and posts that have been put on Facebook. While many people may find it funny, I find it sad that users do not think about what they are posting publicly until it is too late. Students need to remember that what they post could have lasting consequences. 

I think that some of the most important things that we can teach our students prior to using Facebook in the classroom are:
  • setting privacy settings appropriately
  • checking out a profile before you "accept" a friend online
  • thinking about pictures/video/texts posts prior to submitting (i.e. would you show your parent/grandparent/future employer whatever you are posting!)
  • how to post in an educational manner (and respectful!)
This article provides some other security measures to take for students to protect themselves (and for teachers too). Hopefully, we will have access to Facebook at our schools in the future so that we can better utilize this web 2.0 tool and teach our students how to properly use it. 

Happy New Year Blogger World!


  1. Leslie-
    I think its great that you are able to use Facebook with your students (under close supervision of course). Are your students able to use it at school? I know that it is blocked for us. It might also be nice to use to connect with other Spanish speaking students for you and your class.

  2. Monica, No, unfortunately, we cannot use it at school since it is blocked. You used to be able to put an "s" after http to get around it or use a proxy server, but they keep blocking it. The kids use it strictly at home or on their cell phones.

    We have not yet tried it to connect with another class or other students in general, but I will be looking into that with my telecollaborative project!

  3. Leslie,
    You make some great points! Facebook is such a wonderful tool, but sometimes our students do not understand the dangers that can come with sharing too much personal information or making inappropriate friendships. I think technology offers so many teachable moments as long as we do not shy away from the opportunity.