Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Internet and Your Child's Future

I've mentioned this subject before but after doing some research and seeing last night's CBS '48 Mystery' about Amanda Knox, the UW student accused of helping to murder her roommate in Italy, I decided to write and advocated harder. I recently wrote an article for the Roosevelt PTSA parent newsletter on this subject and I'll just excerpt some of it here.

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 Perugia, Italy and is accused of murdering her roommate. Her Italian boyfriend, as well, had a MySpace page.

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 Cornell University, he states:

  • 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.
* You can be held responsible for anything you do that is illegal and that you post on-line. Indeed just recently a group of Florida girls, upset over another girl's posts about them on the girl's MySpace page, videotaped themselves beating her unconscious. They then posted it to YouTube. Somehow they didn't quite get that what they did to this girl was against the law and they all got arrested. The sheriff in Florida, noting that some of them are 16 and 17, wants them tried as adults.

1 comment:

seattle citizen said...

speaking of cyberbullying:

Conference on bullying, first day (May 22) on cyber:

"3rd Annual Washington State Bullying Prevention Conference: Hot Topics in Bullying Prevention.



This conference is a joint effort of the Northwest ESD 189, the Puget Sound ESD and the Seattle School District. This year’s presenting sponsor is Comcast Communications.



The theme of this year’s conference is Hot Topics in Bullying Prevention.

The Hot Topic for Day 1, May 22, is cyberbullying.

The Hot Topics for Day 2, May 23, include brain development, gangs, GLBT, relational aggression and others.

There are excellent presenters on all of these Hot Topics.



The conference will be held at the

Everett Events Center, 2000 Hewitt Ave, Everett, on

May 22 and 23, 2008.



Mail , Fax or register online:

Mailing address:

PSESD, MS KR-01, 800 Oaksdale Ave SW, Renton, WA 98057



FAX: 425-917-7810



Register online at the on PSESD web site:

http://www.psesd.org



Registration is limited. Conference time is getting closer and space is limited.

The deadline is May 9, 2008.

Be among the first to secure your spot!



Don’t wait ‘til the last minute!



Please feel free to share this with other people in your districts and organizations who are also interested and involved in bullying prevention efforts."