Recently we faced a dilemma as school leaders about students using Facebook and in posting this I’m seeking feedback from a wider audience.
To explain we were alerted to a situation about a young student who had a Facebook page. The police had been involved and explained to us about the age young people are allowed to have Facebook pages – shock – I didn’t know. I have a Facebook page and have entered my correct age and probably didn’t have to answer other questions. Anyway we checked the Facebook safety page and found the following:
Children under 13 years old are not permitted access to Facebook. In addition, parents of children 13 years and older should consider whether their child should be supervised during the child’s use of the Facebook site.
A quick search found lots of our senior students 10 – 12 year olds with Facebook pages. Some students declaring they were older [22 years old – one said], others with photos that could be seen as suggestive in nature and others with seemingly innocent one liners declaring their affection for another student.
What to do?
Facebook is a blocked site on the school system so all of this is going on offsite. Where does our responsibility lie here? We have published in the school newsletter a column on cyber safety notifying parents about what we found. We have a parent information session booked with an “expert” in 2010.
We have briefed staff on the issue – quite a few of whom expressed bewilderment on the issue not knowing enough about this web 2.0 stuff like Facebook to structure informed conversations with students on this.
Another search showed more students using myspace. We counsel students on the issues surrounding cybersafety but I’m feeling we are underdone on this and need lots of support to get this right.