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Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Internet and Students

I organized a parent education night at Roosevelt and we had, as our first speaker, a parent who is also a psychologist that specializes in teens and electronic addiction. It turned out to be less of a talk and more a guided discussion. It was great because many of us had the same issues about video games, ipods, cell phones and internet use (interestingly, tv never came up). The point was raised that our children have been born into an electronic world and never known differently (unless they were Amish - even kids without computers in their homes encounter them at school). For them, these items are like appendages.

What is troubling to me is the long-term ramifications of some of the uses of these items. If you own a cell phone (or your child does), there is also likely a camera in it. Anyone can be shot anywhere at anytime doing almost anything and zip! There it goes up on a blog or MySpace or Facebook. And once it's on the Internet, it may be impossible to know where else it is posted or how long it will float around.

I saw that a London newspaper had found out that either Facebook or MySpace (I forget which) has a page where girls and young women are posting the worst pictures of themselves and their friends drunk. In bushes, half-clothed or passed out in bathtubs. This is the kind of thing that can hurt a kid trying to get an internship or a job or even college admission (and yes, people in charge of those areas do look on Facebook and MySpace if they are having a hard time making a decision).

And the current worst example of all? The UW student in Italy who is now accused of collaborating in her roommate's murder at the hands of the student's boyfriend and boss. (The details are all very sketchy and change daily. It is so sad for all the parents.) This girl had a blog and was on both MySpace and Facebook. The result is that everyone who was listed as a "friend" has been contacted by reporters (even if they didn't even know her). The saddest part is things she wrote are now being dissected for clues.

It's ironic that we've had arguments here over signing or not signing your name. Our kids may be putting out photos and video and information about themselves that may hurt them someday. I haven't been keeping up with current parenting magazines or books but I hope there are warnings out there because this a very different world than when we grew up.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Funny thing is I remember my mother poking at me because I wore a Walkman when I walked to school, and my grandmother laughing at us because we had a tv in every room and cordless phones!

Now we're doing the same thing to our kids with cell phones and ipods. We have to teach our kids at home what is appropriate and what is not. We have always had to do that.

The exposure that Melissa mentions above is precisely why I post anonymously on this blog. I had a background check done for a job recently and sure enough they asked me what blogs I frequented. I have nothing to hide, but I do not want everybody that I work for and with to have access to my political views. That is personal, and only shared with people that I am comfortable with. Appropriately.

Anonymous said...

There are two ways to post anonymously on this blog:
1) by using a screen name (like northeast mom)
2) by using anonymous

It is a lot easier to follow a person's development of statements when a screen name is used.

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