Facebook and the very young!

There is a saying that popular uptake of online sites can go ‘viral’.

Unfortunately, this is happening in our primary section of the school, where young students are registering for facebook membership and tweaking their age so they appear to be 16. Some are as young as grade 4.

Their classroom teacher has come to me quite concerned about the situation and seeking advice. To further complicate the situation, Students have not set their profile to private, therefore are completely open for all to see The teacher cannot even show them how to be safe and set their profile to private as facebook is blocked within our school. (She does not support the facebook registration at all, but she does want them to be safe.) Has anyone else had to deal with these issues and how have you dealt with them? Do we as teachers have the responsibility to educate these students appropriately? The latest publicity surrounding facebook and its privacy settings would suggest that we do. Any advice, opinions etc gladly sought. What can be done?

6 responses to “Facebook and the very young!

  1. Parents want the school to run sessions on FB and other online tools or social networking sites but we cannot do so at school, even after the kids have gone home, as the sites are blocked.

    Students and the community need to be literate in social media sites. It is a desperately needed skill. It may not have previously been the task of a ‘school’ to educated parents in this area but if we do not, the number of online issues and problems will soar.

  2. It really maybe parent responsibility to protect their children in partnership with teachers. Use existing channels of communication with the parent body – collect articles about Facebook safety/privacy concerns and link from school website; raise it in school newsletters; notes home from teachers etc. While it is in mainstream media and geek media, the issue may not have filtered through enough for folks to be sufficiently cautious.

  3. The number one priority here is not their privacy, it is that they are breaking the rules of usage for Facebook. You MUST be thirteen to register for FB. They are not.
    I had a number of students try to friend me from my last school. I gave their names to the Primary principal, and he contacted the parents and explained the pitfalls of young children joining FB. I think that, in this case, it is our responsibility to inform the parents that their child is breaking the FB agreement, and then how to protect their child’s privacy. Then it’s up to them I guess.
    Personally, if I got that phone call, then there would be some serious ear-bashing happening!

  4. Hi Anne. We have the same problem at our school. We have taken up the responsibility as part of our cybersafety lessons but only year 5, 6 & 7 so far. We haven’t focussed purely on Facebook but have incorporated it into our sessions, as we found that approx 75% of our Year 5, 6, & 7s have a Facebook page – none of them were actually old enough at that time. We had also had some bullying issues, although they were happening outside of school.

    It has been difficult as Facebook is also blocked here. I was also concerned about showing my, or anyone else’s page on the IWB as you’re never wuite sure what might turn up! I am thinking that it may be worthwhile to set up a school page so that we can actually view it and check out the privacy settings together.

  5. Our school has a similar situation and we decided to write a note in the newsletter explaining the problem with Under 13’s involved in FB. In particular, we mentioned that they are being exposed to content that is often way beyond their years.
    I tried chatting in the playground and spooked a few Yr 6 boys when I told them I could see their pages !!! To be honest, unfortunately, it made little difference. They cannot perceive the problem.
    Educating the parents is probably important, so I guess we will continue with notes in newsletters . Our Year3/4 are enrolled in SuperClubsPlus which is a great forum to learn safe social networking.

  6. In many cases, parents are aware of their child’s membership, but ignore it and/or do not understand the potential. One father of a Year 2 child actually set it up for him.

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