My main push is to get parents to realize how much what gets put on the Internet about your child can follow them around for a long, long time. None of us grew up with the Internet so this is new territory. We are charting a path for our children that is growing and expanding as we speak. Stressing to our kids, over and over, the problems, the pitfalls, and yes, the dangers of posting information on the Internet cannot be underestimated. If you are the parent of elementary or middle school student, the time to have these discussions is NOW.
Here's what I found from my research (this from my article):
Facebook, for example, has 7 million members from more than 2,100 universities and 22,000 high schools and is now the seventh-most-trafficked site on the Net.
Facebook isn’t just about blogging. It shows a scary array of offenses from drinking and drugs to hazing and harassment all in full-color photos and posts. And, once these things are downloaded, it can be virtually impossible to get rid of them.
What’s at stake? Well, internships, entrance to college, staying in college or getting and keeping a job. Some employers use the Internet to check on potential hires because it’s easy and cheaper than doing a background check.
What else? The Italian police are pouring over the MySpace and Facebook pages for possible information about the UW student who was studying in
Looking at Google for information, I found dozens of stories about colleges and universities creating policies about social networking sites and student use of them. Most colleges and universities do not regularly check sites for violations. However, most of them do follow up on any reports they receive about students who may be violating the college/university code of conduct. (By not monitoring regularly, colleges and universities protect themselves from charges of uneven application; by following up on every single report, they protect themselves from charges of not upholding university code of conduct policies.)
In an excellent article by Steven J. McDonald that outlines the policy at
- Cyberspace is not a separate, law-free jurisdiction. You can be held responsible for any actions shown on a social networking site that violate campus rules and policies.*
- What is technologically possible is not the same as what is legally permissible, let alone the same as what is ethically advisable.
- Free access is not the same thing as free speech, nor is free speech the same thing as unfettered speech. Many colleges and universities have speech policies against what you can say against other students or staff.