Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Students face "big brother" of blogging

Yesterday we tackled the meaning of the word blog, so it seems appropriate that today we look at one of the issues that has popped up like a mushroom around these internet info-journals.

Via the bloggers over at The Education Wonks, here's an article from ABC's World News Tonight website on an Illinois high school that's gone to extremes in establishing a policy on how students use blogs both at school and at home. At issue: should the school inject itself into the private lives of students in an effort to protect them from their own cluelessness?

According to a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, nearly 60 percent of kids over the age of 12 have set up websites or blogs on sites such as MySpace, Xanga, and Friendster. These websites often include student photos, names, and other personal information that you, as a parent, don't necessarily want broadcast out to the entire world. But that's often what happens. So the Libertyville High School's school board voted this week to expand its code of conduct to include students' internet postings:

"Starting next year, any student who goes online to post threats, pictures of themselves drinking or smoking, or in sexually suggestive poses will face an investigation and possible disciplinary action."

Obviously, some students aren't happy with the move, which they believe cuts into their freedom to express themselves outside of the school's four walls. (The guys at The Education Wonks predict this: "This disciplinary policy will be thrown out faster than someone can say, "Has the ACLU learned of this one yet?")

It seems to me that in this instance, the school board used the "jaws of life" where precision tweezers would have sufficed. Education and conversation -- the two-way kind -- can go a long way in helping students learn to consider the consequences of their actions and make smart decisions on their own. Also, bringing parents into the mix with information and ideas on how to deal with teen blogging would mean two sets of adults could work together to help kids make wise, informed choices about the information they share with the world, and how they share it.

6 Comments:

At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I belive that blog use should be monitored by parents and by schools. The web makes it so easy for people to post error prone data for mass consumption.

 
At 8:22 AM, Blogger Cheryl van Tilburg said...

Dear Anonymous,
I think the biggest blog danger is personal data that students can put on the internet. The school in Illinois is taking one (extreme, in my opinion) approach to dealing with that problem. But I agree that parents should play a major role in monitoring their students' blog use. The problem with that -- it's hard. The kids are so good at technology; it seems like they're always a step ahead....

As for "error-prone data," if you spot any on this blog, please let us know. We make every effort to share information from highly qualified, expert sources.

Thanks for your comment.

 
At 5:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bigger problems exist, as personal data is only part of the issue. The blog culture allows anyone with an internet connection to post potentially damaging data with little or no cost while remaining anonymous.

 
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