Most educators can relate to this. That moment you log on to Facebook and notice that there has been a friend request sent to you by a student. Every time this happens (and it has happened more times than I can count), it makes me very uneasy. In previous years, I taught Kindergarten and 2nd Grade. Typically the requests were coming from former students, but students who were still far too young to even be on the site in my eyes.
Recently, I began teaching fourth grade and tonight my first friend request of the school year has hit my inbox. Now, I know that I have no control over what these students are doing on the internet at home; however, I recognize that I can play a powerful role in how they choose to use it.
This year, I decided to introduce my students to online blogging using KidBlog.org. It is an amazing forum for student writers and provides the teacher with a world of privacy settings, as well as the ability to monitor and regulate everything happening on the site. Why did I decide to switch from our journals to blogs? Well, that could be a post in and of itself, but one major advantage is that I can begin teaching students about internet safety and etiquette. Students need to know about privacy settings and the dangers that exist by exposing themselves on the web. Additionally, students need to know how to properly communicate with one another so that they do not perpetuate the ongoing issue of cyber bullying.
Whether we, as educators, parents, and caregivers, are willing to accept it, today’s world is monumentally different from when we grew up. Traditional practices need to be revised, and some likely need to be done away with all together. Whether we like it or not, these students are going to be using the internet and technology for the rest of their lives and we are doing them nothing but a huge disservice if we do not educate them on how to use it and — better yet — how to use it correctly.