I recently viewed Danah Boyd’s talk on teenagers living with social media and was all set to blog about it. However, when reading through the blogs my peers in my ECI831 class, I came across Laura’s insightful post about being a parent in a Facebook world. I now have even more ideas that I want to blog about, so I will put my original thoughts regarding Danah’s presentation on the back burner until tomorrow!
Laura posted in her blog about parenting teenagers who are Facebook users. Two of her children have allowed her to be their friends, while the other two have not. Previous to her post, I had given much thought to what it would be like being a teenager and being on Facebook. In fact, that is what my “planned” blog post was about. However, I had not thought much about being a PARENT of a teenage Facebooker. Having no children of my own, but putting myself in Laura’s position, I wavered between which option I would rather – being friends with my children, or not being their friends. On one hand, knowing what my child was doing, thinking, and how he/she was behaving could provide piece of mind, but it may also be too much information at times. On the other hand, not being friends with my child would not allow me to monitor his/her behaviour, and this would be unsettling. I think that in my opinion, too much information is better than none at all. Both my brother and I are friends with our parents on Facebook. Most of my friends are friends with their parents as well. However, at our age, we really do not have anything to hide! As a teenager, I do not know how I would have felt if my parents were on my friends list. I can imagine that many teenagers would not accept their parents’ friend requests, simply out of fact that it would be another way for their parents to monitor them. I also think that most teens are tech-savy enough to know that if they accept their parents as friends, they can use filters to block certain pictures and status from being seen by their parents’ concerned eyes. (Incidentally, Saturday Night Live had the funniest skit about downloading a “My Mom’s On Facebook” App filter posts so that they appear decent to your mother. Unfortunately, unless you’re American, you can’t view it on NBC or YouTube. However, our friends to the south can enjoy it here.)
The topic of parents of teenage Facebookers caused me to think about my cousin, her daughter, and their Facebook issues. My cousin’s daughter is not a teenager – she is only nine years old. My cousin did not want her using Facebook yet, simply because she is under the restricted age limit, and she felt that at that age, she should be playing with her friends rather than talking to them online. Her daughter’s father, who her daughter lives with part time, allowed her to set up a Facebook account. At first, my cousin was annoyed and concerned, but she has since set boundaries with her daughter. Now, while being her Facebook friend, she is able to monitor her daughter’s behaviour online. With parents friending their children on Facebook, I feel that there are less privacy and safety issues as were the case in chatrooms.
Before I sign off, I’m leaving you with a few questions. First of all, to those of you with children, I am wondering, simply out of curiosity, how many of you are friends with your child? Have you ever had issues with what he/she has posted on Facebook? Second, do you feel that there should age restrictions on how old a child must be before he/she can set up an account, or should social networks be accessible to all ages? I personally feel that the Facebook should be available to all ages and that the minimum age limit should be removed, granted that a parent or guardian is monitoring the online behaviour. The age requirement is rarely followed anyway, from what I can see, as the majority of my 10-11 year old students are on Facebook. I feel that Facebook could be used in education (something that I will discuss later) and that the earlier we an educate children about safety and critical thinking when using the internet, the better. Mark Zuckerberg agrees!
Finally, I am teaching a bullying unit to my students and will be beginning the section on cyber bullying next week. I planned to work on my lessons this weekend. I am excited to use Twitter and Delicious to find new lesson ideas, but before planning, I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions for videos, websites, or anything that you found worked particularly well when teaching about cyber bullying. Thanks, and enjoy the rest of your week!