Year 8 and Facebook

I’ve always been concerned about children in school using Facebook and Bebo etc. At my previous school we had a few incidents of cyber-bullying via Bebo and MSN and the Head’s initial attitude was that as it happened out of school it wasn’t our problem – it was only when it spilled over into the playground that he decided to take it more seriously.

Now that I’m at an Independent school that goes up to Year 8 I have children who are old enough to sign up for Facebook and almost all of the year 8s already have accounts yet they have had no input into how to use it sensibly and constructively. All of the e-safety work they have done in the past has concentrated on the negatives and therefore made it seem a bit ‘naughty’ to use Facebook (Which it still is for under 13s I agree) but I’m beginning to think that maybe we should be modelling how to use Social Networking sites sensibly and show how they can be used positively. We’re a boarding school and many children have asked to use Facebook simply to keep in contact with family.

I’ve often thought about using Facebook or Bebo to set up pages for historical characters. This would allow the children to research those characters and find out more about them. WHo would be Henry VIII’s friends etc.

Whenever I’ve mentioned the idea through twitter I’ve had generally positive feedback but never been brave enough to go for it as I want to make sure I have everything covered and have thought of all the issues that parents might raise. What do people think? Please leave me a comment.

5 thoughts on “Year 8 and Facebook

  1. Hi Chris
    you are right to be looking at ways of helping students use FB etc with some guidance. Currently all they get is negative stuff plus peer pressure from other children who may not have the worldly wisdom they need to use all their digital skills sensibly.
    I’ve often wondered if schools should have an official FB site where students, teachers and parents can interact in a public (and therefore safe) space?
    Extending your Guy Fawkes project into other topics would also be interesting.

  2. I think you have to talk about the negatives too though. thinkuknow has excellent videos which stimulated a very interesting debate in my Y6 classroom about social networking. I know that they do give the negative side but my feeling is that it is all part of keeping them safe.

    I pointed out to my class that I know it was against the Ts&Cs for them to have accounts but also that I was more interested in keeping them safe than anything else and so told them where to find the privacy settings and we had a debate about tagging people in photos, who to accept as friends and why having a picture of yourself in a bikini as your profile picture might not be the best idea in the world. I pointed out that many adults don’t know much more than the basics about social networking and some reported afterwards that they had been teaching their parents about it which was good to hear.

    Basically I think what I am saying is that I think that finding funky stuff to do with facebook would be wicked but it would need to have all the serious stuff in as well.

    I am having fun imagining Henry VIII’s facebook page though – Anne Boleyn – blocked or out-right head-blocked? It begs the question really…! Could also have a debate about who Henry might like to see his wall and who he might not…

  3. Hi yes I completely agree – if we make something seem ‘naughty’ it is all the more attractive and therefore kids are more likely to use it without discrimination or caution. Colleagues in school libraries have now set up Facebook pages for their libraries and this seems to be going well and several authors have created users for their characters, these are great fun to follow (pongwhiffy for example). We can’t effectively teach students about the possible dangers of the internet in a walled garden – if we simply block everything as you say they will just find other ways to access, on their mobile phones for example. Be brave – go for it!

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