Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Quit Facebook Or Be Expelled, Queensland Primary School Tells Students

From the Huffington Post:
Students at a primary school have been told by teachers to quit social networking site Facebook or be expelled. 
In Harlaxton State School's newsletter, the principal said no student is to have a Facebook account as it violates the school's policy, the Brisbane Times reported. 
Principal Leonie Hultgren argued that as Facebook legally requires users to be at least 13 years old, pupils at the Queensland school were breaking the law if they registered with the site as they would be providing false information to do so. 
The school introduced the policy after a spate of cyberbullying. 
"A student who contravenes the law or rule in a digital scenario may need to meet the Principal to discuss this issue and their continued enrolment at Harlaxton," she added. 
"It may seem insignificant to lie about your age to gain access to a social media site but where does it stop? Will they then think it is okay to lie about their age to gain a licence?"
The same rules apply to Facebook in the UK but research conducted in 2011 revealed 43% of nine to 12 year-olds are registered to use the site.
Responding to the research, a spokesperson for Facebook said:
"Recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the Internet and that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don't circumvent a system or lie about their age.
"Just as parents are always teaching and reminding kids how to cross the road safely, talking about internet safety should be just as important a lesson to learn."
Should Facebook be banned in schools? Let us know.

Quit Facebook Or Be Expelled, Queensland Primary School Tells Students

The proper age for going on sites like Facebook and Flickr is an open debate in the Web 3.0 Lab.  Gail, who works with cyberbulling and teens thinks that children should not be allowed on sites until about 14 years of age.  I spend more time working with the technology and contact hackers and other dark hats who on social networks and tend to think 17 would be a good age, but its unlikely to be able to stop someone from using such sites by 15.

As long as children have free access to PC and mobile smart phones they will be able to join Facebook.  If schools and families put in policies preventing them from being on in their own name they will make up personalities to go online with.  We have found time and time again that negative behavior like trolling and bullying go up when people are online with other identities.

We guess the real question is why are communication devices and computers being given to children at such young ages.  In the early days of marketing computers the child audience was heavy targeted.  In 1989 it was hard to think of a reason to buy a computer, so firms came up with 'education' as key selling point, and the use of computers was presented as something that could benefit children.

But let us be very honest here: computers are not an educational tool.  In the past 20 years the computer has gone from a expensive geeky toy or business tool to a item in every teens pocket: skills of reading, writing, communication and collaboration have not gone up.  The real outcome of some many young people on the Internet has been less exercise, more cheating, more grooming, more bullying and more underage sexual conduct.

Computers are loaded devices when connected to the Internet.  The Internet has innate dangers and the rush to give every child a fully web enabled small computer really has no benefit.  Identity should be form out in the context of family, friends, school and community before it is on the cover of facebook.

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