It’s not something I am completely up to speed on, but I have spoken to a number of teachers, parents and people who work with schools recently, and it does seem to me that there are a significant number of schools who rather than tackling social networking are hiding behind their firewall and just hoping the problem goes away.
It’s not just a question of telling kids under the age of 13 that they probably shouldn’t be on facebook or that they can’t access the site from school. (Some) Schools appear to be following a policy of fear, uncertainty and doubt when it comes to social media, in an effort to make children believe they are better off running away from it all.
That tactic is fine if all you are aiming to do is not make this your problem now, sooner or later these children are going to encounter social media, and are either going to want to use it, or increasingly be expected to do business by it. If all schools (and parents) have done to prepare them is tell them to hide in the corner, there’s going to be many more problems then the one they are trying to solve.
Instead of scaring children we should be equipping them with the skills they need to survive in a connected world, because it’s not going away. Already businesses are turning to social tools to run businesses and in ten years it’s certainly going to be a vital skill in the workplace.
More importantly than the world of work however is the simple fact that social networks do attract the more undesirable elements of our society, after all they attract all elements of society. If we don’t give children the skills to cope with this they will be in danger, but that skill can’t just be ignorance, because that’s unrealistic.
Still thinking about this, not least how teachers also run from the site, how can they hope to give anyone else the skills to cope with them.