I just read this article from BBC News on the use of Facebook and other online technology in classrooms. I think this is pretty great, except for this part:
“Teachers setting up Facebook accounts should not befriend pupils, rather allow the children to take the initiative, Prof Heppell advises. They should not read their pupils’ Facebook pages and should never chat via instant message.”
Now, I don’t necessarily think teachers and students should chat via instant message, mostly to protect the teacher, but I do think that it’s important for kids to know that there is an adult presence even in cyberspace.
Being “around” on our kids’ Facebook pages and other social media is something that four of us here at Heart of the Matter Seminars discussed amongst ourselves a few years ago when our kids were getting to that age and were starting to get into social media.
It was an interesting dialouge because although the four of us parent from the same core set of beliefs and parenting principles, we have different styles and comfort levels–not only surrounding how we put those beliefs in place, but also surrounding social media!
In the end, we all agreed on the core belief “parenting in close proximity” doesn’t stop after infancy or even after grade school years. It just looks different! Facebook is a great example. We made a conscious decision to be “friends” with our kids and each other’s kids. A couple of the moms (who would never have been on Facebook otherwise) had to set up Facebook accounts to do this.
Because of our parenting beliefs, we’re not on there to “police” conversations so much as to guide and chaperone. We take an active part in posting. The beautiful thing is that because we’re “friends” with each other’s kids, even the less active moms feel more comfortable with their kids on Facebook. And, I think it gives our kids a sense of comfort and closeness as well.
We can encourage, laugh with and sometimes challenge posts, ideas or situations that we might not otherwise hear about. Some of the best discussions between my son and I have been sparked by Facebook posts that one of us has written or that one of us read from another “friend”. It’s just another way to stay connected during the teen years when so many parents and children become more disconnected.