In "Finally Facebook", Kate describes how she has just started a Facebook (FB) account "in the name of research" for a parent workshop she is holding at her school on “what kids are up to online these days”. Kate felt that she couldn't teach others about FB without actually using it herself, as she is keen to help 'educate' your students' parents about Social Networks.
"In no way will I be conveying that social networks are something to be scared of - I will be emphasizing parent awareness, monitoring, and open communication with teens and referencing much of Danah Boyd’s work.Kate also includes some really good links to "educational writings on social networking".
I believe every parent (and TEACHER, but that’s another post) should at least understand what social networks are, even if they aren’t interested in using them for personal use. Not because social networks are something to necessarily be worried about, but we need to understand how our kids work, interact, and think. It’s just simply NOT ok anymore for parents to say, “I hardly even know how to email, ha ha” and have that be just cute and a sign of the times. We need to wake up and figure out where this generation is spending time.
- Why doesn’t every single school have parent education courses?
- Why aren’t all teachers REQUIRED to learn and discuss how social networking affects learning and interacting with teenagers (students’ personal, not educational use)?"
And since using Social Networking Sites like FB has been high on the agenda in the e-learning circles at TAFE SA this week I thought that I would include my comments to Kate's blog here, so that I can start to gather a 'repository' of information which can help us 'massage' people's understanding of the importance of 'learning how to function in an online environment'.
This is the comment I left on Kate's 'Finally Facebook' blog post today:
"You're spot on here Kate - the message to parents is - 'get amongst it' - because it is only once you're in the social networking-sphere that you can truly understand what's going on.
Like you I create a MySpace account a while back, and then the next time I went back to it I had 6 friend requests - I was so excited - 6 strangers wanted to be my friend :). However, upon opening up the 'requests' screen I had 6 men wanting to be my friend - hmmm - perhaps they mis-read my desire to 'network'. I was shocked and quickly rejected all of them.
However, it did bring home the question:
- how do young adolescents deal with this kind of thing?
A work colleague mentioned that her son wanted to get a MySpace and that she wasn't going to let him. I asked her how she was going to stop him, and suggested that she actually got her own MySpace, so she could at least understand the attraction of these sites to young people, and then start the 'conversations' needed to guide young people through the digital world.
Social networking is such an emerging area - so we all need to be in it together, so as a community we can shape it into a healthy and vibrant place to be.