Friday, June 02, 2006

The Over Reaction to Social Networking

Podcast Version

Before I start this podcast, please give me a few minutes to bandage the serious rectangular grooves in my forehead made by the bricks on the wall I've been banging my head against, andto finish zipping up my asbestos suit.

OK, there it's done. This little rant is about social networking and the media coverage and the resulting reaction of the adult world in general and education world in particular.

At the risk of stating the obvious, social networking is a part of our culture. It has been around
since the first cavemen met on the plains. The only thing that has changed since then is the way that networking takes place. Eventually schools evolved, and though it wasn't specifically labeled as such, social networking was actually a part of the core curriculum along with the three R's.

As time progressed, the social networking curriculum in schools was less formal and took place through proper role modeling and in loco parentis. However it was still there in the form of extra-curricular activities, dances, clubs and so on. This evolution took place because we were teaching our children based on what we had been taught and what we knew.

Now, all of a sudden, students are networking in ways that are unfamiliar to us. We are no longer the experts in the mechanics of social networking. But rather than learning about these new ways of networking and how we can best guide our students through the online world, we become reactionary. We forget that we are still the experts in the ways of life and rather than learn and teach, we filter, block, and punish that which has been a part of our culture since the dawn of time.

Are we so stupid as to believe that this will stop that which we fear? Are we so blind that we think this will make our students safe or change what they are doing? Are we so irresponsible that we will renege on our responsibility to prepare students for networking life in the 21st century? If so, then SHAME ON US!!!

It's high time we get back in the game. We can start by recognizing that there is a great deal we can learn from our children. If we start treating them as collaborative partners in the new century we might get somewhere. They know that they know more about the technology than most of us. But they don't know what they don't know, namely the dangers and complexities of human interaction. Maybe if we are willing to learn from them about their world, they will listen to what we have to say about the rest of the world and the things they don't know.

In the weeks to come, I'll be talking more about how we can begin to teach our children about the complexities of social networking while helping them develop critical thinking and problem solving skills that will provide them with tools for life both online and off.

That's all for now. Take care and be safe.

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posted by Art @ 6:19 PM   2 comments


At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I just happened across this post through a search, as I have an interest in the topic and my site also focuses on online communities.

The only thing I really put forward is that the new way of networking is a generational gap larger than perhaps previous ones and probably larger than ones to come, as social web technology will be a given, in whatever form it takes.

I think parents simply have to embrace technology, become aware and do what parents have been doing for centuries. Teach their children well and pray.

The biggest peeve I have is that parents often bury their heads and don't want to find out.

At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think part of the problem teachers have with kids using a tool such as MySpace is the reprecussions that they might encounter from parents. It's safer to stay away from opportunities that may cause an issue.


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