SNS: Schools encouraging parents to discourage children’s use
One of the social networking missions I have recently embarked on is to develop a widget/application for Facebook that will enable my local authority to consult with children and young people and most importantly keep them up to date with the council’s responses to the consultation/poll results. This is building on the fact that we have acknowledged that this has been one our weaknesses and it would be a complex task to audit our youth involvement/consultation. This widget will hopefully enable us to work within the ‘You said, we did’ ethos and to publish our responses using YouTube videos, photos, pdfs, articles etc.
In order to promote the widget/app I have been trying to arrange a visit to a High School within each of our 5 areas. However this has proved difficult, with no Schools being particularly forthcoming in their response to my request to present an assembly. In fact the only response I have received so far is from a concerned learning mentor who has advised me that their School has encouraged parents to discourage their child’s use of social networking sites. See below:
“Thank you for the e-mail below which has been forwarded to me by our office staff. I am the Learning Mentor here and work closely with our School Council. I would be interested to find out more about your proposals before going ahead, in particular I am concerned that we have had a number of cases of quite serious cyber bullying through social networking sites and so as a school we are concerned about encouraging pupils to use sites such as BEBO. If we told our pupils to fill out your questionnaire inevitably many will then stay on the site for other purposes and I think it would be wrong of us to ask pupils to use these sites when we have previously asked parents to try to prevent their use. I appreciate you are trying to spread a message of safe usage of these sites however I’m concerned that the school could be accused of sending mixed messages, is there any way that our pupils could take part in the consultation without using social networking sites?”
So before I tell you my thoughts on this dilemma and what I believe my response will be, I am opening it up for those interested to voice their opinions. Has anyone else had a similar experience? Is the School right to discourage young people from using the services because people have been bullied? If so should we be discouraging students from going to school too because they also get bullied there?