Facebook and Children

This is the week of big Facebook news – the IPO turning Mark Zuckerberg and many others into very rich people and the debate about what such a company is worth. Two news stories that got rather less attention concerned the thorny issue of children using Facebook. The company has always ‘covered’ itself by stating that it is an infringement of their rules to join under the age of 13. The first news story I saw concerned a case in America where some parents were complaining that their school-going daughter had been forced against her will by school authorities to reveal her Facebook password and her account had been opened and the content examined. The school’s justification was that this was necessary in an investigation concerning cyber bullying.

The second concerns the article below where a school in Australia has made the decision to threaten students under 13 years of age with dire consequences if they keep Facebook accounts, even potentially leading to expulsion from the school. As can well be imagined, the Principal’s decision has met with very varied and sometimes quite extreme reactions. Our own policy, until now, has tended to be based upon ensuring that students and parents are as well informed as possible about the risks, that they know they are committing a wrong if they falsify their age to circumvent Facebook’s rules and that students and parents should never under-estimate the longer term implications of an irresponsible digital footprint at the time of college admission applications or even applying for jobs.

I saw a lot of merit in the Principal’s argument that ultimately, if the child will not make wise and safe choices for themselves and the parents fail to take responsibility for the situation, then what is the responsibility of responsible educators? Should they ignore the situation whilst being aware of the risks?

Australian News Article – Expulsion for Using Facebook

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3 Responses

  1. This issue is not limited to Facebook. The technological advances are making information access more and more easier. To what extent educators can control that? Are you going to expel students watching inappropriate content on TV or on internet or in the Newspapers… This is more for parents to control setting some ground rules and following those themselves firsr.

  2. I agree. The responsibility lies equally with parents and educators but each can do work only in their own arena and it shall work only if both sides do their bit with responsibility and commitment. And it shall not work if both are not working on it simultaneously.

  3. This is Catch 22 Situation . But , yes , as we all know , nothing is without implications. It is for good when FB , Parents & School Authorities at responsibly and stop contradicting each other .

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