As a middle school principal, it is alarming to me that so many middle schoolers have Facebook accounts when the requirement is to be at least 14 years of age. To be blunt, this means that most middle schoolers on Facebook obtained their account by lying about their true age. It seems that our character education piece on honesty and integrity is not being applied on the net where it is reported that students between 11-14 spend at least 3 hours each night during the school year. Obviously, my students are not alone. It is estimated that nearly 40% of middle schoolers nationally have access to Facebook and/or other social networking sites.
Despite the dangers of social networking sites, or maybe because of them, I believe middle school educators should be actively helping students think about how to use these powerful social sites to do good in the world. I believe there are huge benefits that can be derived when students are taught to use social networking tools responsibly. Instead of running away from the most popular way to communicate by our current students, or wishing them away; we should be engaging our students to apply their need to network, research and innovate with our responsibility to teach honesty, integrity and the importance of maintaining a positive online profile that they can be proud of for years to come.
With this in mind, I am hopeful that we will begin to explore ways to incorporate the latest social networking ideas in school and use them to inspire and motivate our students. As well as, develop relevant programs that help to teach students cyber safety while using social networks and other online tools. At the middle level, I am not advocating for the use of Facebook, but there are other sites that could provide similar services in a more secure environment. Here is a link to some innovative thinking...
What do you think?