No doubt about it..... I will admit, I am not very technologically savvy. It is still a miracle to me that I know what a blog is, let alone manage to post one! This morning I got the weekly email newsletter from our daughter's high school. There is a new social networking site called formspring.me. Not surprisingly, I was completely unaware. But knowing of the highly publicized cases of teenagers committing suicide recently because of bullying, both in person and online, I don't think kids need another tool to beat each other down with. High school is hard enough, isn't it??? As parents, we have got to know what our kids are doing, we have to teach and model compassion, and we have to be willing to make unpopular decisions. Here is the article, I thought you might be interested:
Helping Parents to Be Aware of Internet Risks: Helping students to use Internet communication tools in a safe and healthy way is a major concern at ****** Academy. This is a difficult challenge as students go through the process of making connections and building trust with new people. We are working with students to help them understand that what they say online are real words that can cause real harm and can result in real consequences at school and beyond.
A recent addition to the online world is a new social networking site called formspring.me. It has a questions-and-answers format and is linked to Facebook and Twitter. The question asked can be funny, friendly or hostile. The attraction for teenagers is that this questioning is anonymous, which can bring out the worst in many teenagers! No internet communication is really anonymous. A recent speaker showed educators how the IP address for any online communication can be found.
There have been several occasions where feelings were hurt, relationships destroyed and the reputations of both the sender and the receiver damaged. These questions can be viewed by others, making this a very public way to express one's dislike of someone. This format has been causing problems in schools across the nation. Adults would not allow a student to treat another student like this face to face. It is just as unacceptable online.
Many of our students are using this website. We encourage parents to end student access to any site with so much potential for harm. Just having an account opens your student to this type of attack. Parents can check the history on the home computer to see if their daughter is using formspring.me. If so, we urge you to make sure the account is deactivated.
Social networking sites have given students access to tools that they may not be mature enough to use wisely and safely. Please discuss this with your daughter and eliminate the risk that this site poses in the lives of our students.
I spoke this morning with a woman from our church, she had to make a very unpopular decision that her 14 year old son was not going to be happy with.... sigh.... loving them enough to do the right thing is so hard....