Facebook Friending 101 for Schools

Facebook has added an incredible complexity to our lives and relationships for one simple reason: it is in writing. The courts have always put things “in writing” in higher esteem above word of mouth. Now that we are inundated with video, text, and photographs and a set of complex relationships – we end up with things “in writing” that are distributed far beyond our true “friends” into  places that get us in trouble.

I don't have all the answers but am wrestling with this problem and want to lay out the facts so you and I can become co-travelers on this journey. I speak from experience, however, having two significant experiences under my belt with the school in this arena, know that there are things that I cannot say about situations that come in out what I share. It can happen because it DOES. This isn't theory.

Defining “Friend”
Anyone who has seen The Social Network finds Mark Zuckerberg‘s use of the word “friend” ironic as through the course of the movie we see him lose the few friends he has in order to gain the millions that are online. I've heard it is a mischaracterization (come on what billionare 20-something year old doesn't havea  lot of friends ;-) but nevertheless friend doesn't mean what you think.

In “the South” we are taught to be friendly from the moment our Mom's tell us as a drooling tot to “say hello because he just said hello to you.” Be friendly. So, we think we have to “friend” everyone who “friends” us – it is good manners, right?


Let's get this straight. We are talking about Facebook Friends (I call them FF's in class) and a Facebook friend has access to everything you put on your wall (unless you “list” them – more on that later.) It means that if you “friend” someone who hates you that they will be crawling your page and your life looking for something bad about you. It also means that if you “friend” your students and you skip school one day and post “I took a sick day to go to the mall.” that you've just ratted yourself out — in writing. Everyone will know, that sort of word travels fast.

I use my Facebook for my professional life.  I don't friend students. I only friended my husband and I definitely don't friend my kids. Let's look at why.

Basic Friend and Publication Structure

How “Friending” Distributes Your Work

You are on Facebook. Your settings determine how people view your content. Check them thoroughly and every month or so to make sure you know what is in there and UNDERSTAND them.

Friends (FF)
Your friends have access to everything you publish unless you override the settings. If you friend someone – they are in your inner circle or your FF's. Do you trust them?

Facebook has allowed “listing” which lets you specify “friends” “coworkers” “high school friends” etc. and specify what content goes to which. I'm not smart enough to keep up with the complexity myself  I started eagerly using lists the day they were released, however, have found that they didn't work as stated and and my primary interface for Facebook (my itouch) doesn't give me access to lists when I accept a friend request there – so it has been pretty useless. It has been difficult in implementation for me.

Update: 3/29/2011 My friend Suzie Nestico (see her amazing new blog Coal Cracker Classroom) uses this feature and has graciously given me some screenshots to show how to hide lists from one another. I'm still not sure how to hide both ways. (i.e. hide students from friends – but I also want to hide friends from students – I guess there is a way to do this.) Also, it is vital that every person you friend get put on a LIST for this to work. And some interfaces (like handheld Facebook apps) don't give the option to list the friend as of the writing of this post. Finally, this is just how to hide specific updates from specific people and the primary concern is still having the two way avenue opened between students and my adult friends.

This is how to make a status update that is hidden from certain people.
Hiding updates from specific people. How many jobs would this have saved? Not sure if you can get at this feature in a handheld app.

Obviously, Facebook realizes this as a New York Times article this week reveals that part of Facebook's strategy is “friend clusters” but that is yet to be determined. The article claims that this will return us to “Facebook intimacy” which is nonexistent in the behemoth we have on our computers today.

If you are “friends only” then only your friends can see your content. Simple enough. It has nothing to do with whether they can see each other's content.

UPDATE 3/28/2011: I have been told there is a setting in the comments below that will allow friends not to see each other. At this point, I've been through privacy settings (as I did before I wrote the post Friday) and cannot find this. If this feature is hidden or possible, please let me know but as of now it is not something available in my Facebook privacy settings.

Friends of Friends (FOF)
This is where we get in trouble. When a person has their settings as “friends of friends” then the friends of their friends can see their pages. In my work with students and adults – most people haven't gone in and edited the new, improved privacy features that Facebook announced last year that give you control over these three areas. Most people around here are publishing to FOF's.

Studies show the average number of FF's we have is 120-130 (New York Times Dec 2010). So, if you have 120 friends and those friends have 120 friends, your page is potentially being viewed by 14,400 people who probably have some loose relationship with you — If you have your settings to be Friends of Friends.

But here is the trick. YOU may have your page set to “Friends only,” however, you have no control over your FF's pages. If your students or the adults you have friended have their pages set to FOF or Public then your FF can go through your list of Facebook friends and see each other's pages.  

You are a living hyperlink between all of your Facebook Friends (FF's).

This is what everyone can see. According to Facebook (May 2010) you

“can't hide your name, profile picture, network and gender (if you provide this info).” 

Be careful on your profile picture, many get tripped up just by posting an innappropriate profile photo. Everyone sees it.

Also, your ” facebook network” means  the college, school, or other group you are part of. You are linked to your colleges, schools, etc. and so are your students. Everyone sees this. So, basically someone can pull up your school network and see the profile pics and gender and names of everyone at your school. (Does this bother anyone but me?)

You CAN set your page to public, which means that all of Facebook's users and everyone on the web can see your page. Kids can set it to public as well and many have.

How does this impact Teachers?

Teachers become “human hyperlinks” between groups of people.

 When a teacher uses ONE account to friend students – the teacher becomes a living hyperlink between students, adults, families, etc. This is where we get in trouble.

  • Do we want everyone to know the names of our students? 
  • If our students have their privacy set to public – do we want to accept responsibility that everyone in our friend's network is on the up and up and not a “creeper?” 

We all know and have probably FF'd someone who is strange. You have just accepted responsibility for all of your FF's and are a living hyperlink.

This is why teachers who really want to be on Facebook often set up a “school account” and just friend students with it. But now, remember, you are a link between students. (I'm not saying don't do it, I just want you to understand what this MEANs.)

A true-er picture of the world

 But as most teachers say,

“I want to be part of their lives and all of these other adults are friends with students – why shouldn't I be. Aren't you just talking “theory” here – the real world is that students and adults are friends all over the place!!”

Yes, this is true. The reality is that in the mess of privacy settings and indiscriminate uneducating friending that we do have a mass mess.

Say, an adult with a mental disorder has an argument with another adult and flames on Facebook posting profanity and horrible pictures. Their settings are “friend of friend” – anyone connected to that adult as a friend can see the page. They can be exposed by human hyperlink to trash. It happens and has happened.

If that “human hyperlink” happens to be a school or a teacher – parents can blame the teacher or school for their role in exposing students to that content. I don't like this but even if a child is friend with 100 adults and could get there to that content 100 ways, the school is one of those links and they expect us to be responsible. They blame us. I've taken the phone call, readers, I'm not making this up.

Parents are a Big Part of the Problem

Parents often don't realize that they are causing safety concerns when they friend their own children.

 I believe that if a parent wants to friend their child that they should create ONE facebook account just for friending their child. They should have just as many friends as they have children. Period. If they want to monitor their child's account that is set to “friends only” they should do this.

Otherwise, when a parent friends their child – they can also see everything for their children's friends who are set to “FOF” or “public” but also their child can see everything for the adults in Mom's or Dad's network. Likewise, when the friends of parents can see the child – that is too much information for me as a parent. My job is to protect my children and since I use Facebook more as a professional than personal, it is an overlap I cannot allow. 

I know of parent “creepers” that get into everything going on in a school. These are the ones that friend their children and then proceed to look at all of their friends on an ongoing basis. They know everything to the point that I think it is unhealthy. 

I've also seen kids who are defriended because of creeper parents. Parents have a responsible role to play here. Kids shouldn't be the Jersey-Shore entertainment for adults who don't have anything better to do. But, they should also understand about posting innappropriate content.

Why does sharing matter? A Real-Life Case Study.

I'm going to give a live example with names changed. 

Let's say that we have a large project with kids from multiple schools and one child has a funny name- let's call him “Zipper” and posts a really strange picture of himself as his profile. Kids from another school find this hilarious and start making fun of “Zipper” both in the chat and on the project.

Teachers intervene and put a stop to the behavior to which the student's who are picking on Zipper say “we're just going to take it to Facebook” to which the teacher says “If you take this to Facebook, there will be consequences.” Of course, the kids laugh it off — my school on Facebook, not going to happen.

Zipper now knows what is up and refuses the friend request from these students. (How many “Zipper”s are there on Facebook.) So the kids making fun of Zipper look at Zipper's network and see his school. They go through the school and friend Zipper's friends and ONE girl who has TMF's (too many friends) friends them. She friends everyone including Zipper and these kids making fun of Zipper. She has become a human hyperlink.

Zipper has not realized that his updates are set to Friend of Friend and gets a new cell phone number. He goes in and updates his cell phone number which is posted to his wall. The kids making fun of him and his name are watching Zipper's wall and see his phone number. They start texting him. One bold student calls him three times and leaves a message. 

This happens all in a 24 hour period. Now, how did this turn out?

Zipper's friends took screenshots and brought them to Zipper's teacher. Zipper brought his cell phone and in let the teacher hear the messages (he deleted the first two.) Zipper's teacher takes the documentation and sends it to the school of the students who are cyberbullying Zipper – because that is what has happened in this case. Fortunately, the school which housed the students conducting themselves in this way was a visionary school – the vice principal was involved and put the kids on suspension with notification if they contacted Zipper in any way they would be expelled.   The students were removed from the project and given an alternate assignment while the rest of the project continued.

Zipper's teacher helped him set his Facebook privacy settings, delete his cell phone, and spent time with the whole class using this as a powerful teachable moment on Friends of Friends AND sharing too much information. Everyone in the class set their page to FF only except for two who just didn't want to.

Zipper's teacher notified the principal and his parents and let them know what was happening.

36 hours – issue resolved.

This real-life case scares the dickens out of administrators but it happens. To be ready for this, I think that schools should:

  • Consider the policy for friending and educate teachers and staff. (If some are actually TELLING kids to friend them based upon their role at the school – you have HUGE issues and they need to consider having a separate account.)  Tell them HOW they can friend students not that they CAN'T in any cases. You're not living in reality if you think you can stop it altogether, particularly if faculty have their own children at the school.
  • EDUCATE EDUCATE EDUCATE. It is not an option to ignore facebook. Educate parents, staff, students. Have Facebook Fridays and help kids review their privacy settings (with permission from parents.) You can't talk about this issue enough.
  • Consider multiple accounts for yourself and staff. Thus far, Facebook's efforts in this area have been lip service, in my opinion. They admit the problem is messy.Educators should listen. You don't want to risk being the human hyperlink in the equation of the problems that WILL not MIGHT but WILL happen between students, adults, etc. Faculty can also have pages to communicate with kids and NOT friend students. This is a great middle ground I recommend.
  •  You should get on Facebook. yes, I said it. How can you understand it unless you use it yourself. Decide the purpose for your Facebook account and stick to it. Administrators and teachers not using it at all don't understand it. It is like people telling me how to raise my kids who don't have any of their own.
  • Have a Facebook Page for your school. This is a safe way to get your information about your school from YOU – otherwise the grapevine on Facebook will do it for you. (I'll share how to do this in the next week or two.)
  • Consider a digital citizenship education program like the Digiteen program, a nonprofit that I run, or Common Sense media or Microsoft's excellent Family Safety Resource or the many other resources out there. If you have driver's ed you should have digital citizenship education. Period.
  • Teach kids how to Screenshot. “Stop Block and Tell” sounds nice but it is WRONG!! It is Stop, Screenshot, Block, Tell, and SHARE! (See my free downloadble 5 Steps to Internet Safety (for non commercial use) – you may also buy these posters at my Café Press Store or contact me for bulk printing discounts.) They need to be ready for WHEN not IF issues happen.
  • Partner with those in global collaboration who have an active role in handling projects and the interface between schools so that issues like that of Zipper above can be dealt with quickly.
  • Educate yourself. These issues will be dealt with by administrators and teachers the world over for the forseeable future.
  • Look at Kidswirl for kids, parents, and faculty. This is an excellent option that my students and I have tested. They have some excellent privacy settings. Give a good alternative to Facebook.

And truthfully, Facebook can handle some issues like this. I know of kids as young as 7 on Facebook (with parental knowledge) – the conditions say you are supposed to be 13. If they have to network, try Kidswirl.

I think that Facebook should be able to block the searching of K12 networks when certain types of behavior are seen. There are ways to ferrett out innappropriate use and we know they are tracking our clicks for goodness sakes. But, don't expect it.

Face it, if your kids and school are going to be using Facebook safely, it is up to you!

Remember your noble calling.

This is the first in a series of posts about Social media for schools.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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BF Wilson March 25, 2011 - 12:21 pm

Another great article. Thnx Vicki for the share. I’m posting links to it on my classroom page now.

coolcatteacher March 25, 2011 - 12:36 pm

Thank you. As you can tell, this one hits VERY close to home right now. I wish I had the answers but I do know we need to ask the questions.

Karl Schaefer March 25, 2011 - 3:04 pm

Vicki, I have read you, learned from you, and lurked in the shadows of your sharing for a few years. Today, I join up. Great article among the gems you put forth to my Reader each day. These all go to Instapaper for offline reading on my farm when not at school.

eharden March 25, 2011 - 4:36 pm

Terrific article! We just discussed this in our school this week. I’m gonna send a link to this article to all our staff!

coolcatteacher March 25, 2011 - 5:09 pm

Oh, you are a “farm girl” too! I like you already! Thank you so much for jumping in and saying hello and for your encouraging words! You can also get me on the Kindle ;-) Thank you again, so much for saying hello.

coolcatteacher March 25, 2011 - 5:10 pm

If you get some simple answers, please share them. Thank you so much for leaving a comment. Your comment and the overwhelming response of others to this article on Twitter and through comments makes it all worth it! Thank you and I hope this helps prevent some of the problems I’ve sweated lately!

Andy Zweibel March 25, 2011 - 6:00 pm

I am a senior in my undergrad and am currently student teaching, and as coincidence has it, I came across this post while sitting in an ethics seminar in-service day… We spent a lot of time talking about cyber-bullying and ways to prevent it, and I was very disappointed with the attitude of most of the room, which was to avoid social networks completely. Vicki, you do a fantastic job of reinforcing the fact that we are teaching digital natives who need to be prepared to be members of our society, and that INCLUDES digital citizenship!

Thank you for this incredible resource; I look forward to the other posts in this series!

coolcatteacher March 25, 2011 - 7:37 pm

Thank you!! People said the same thing about email and the Internet in the early 90’s!!! Great points!

Vicki Davis
Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Building the bridges of today that the society of tomorrow will walk across.

Sent from my iPod touch

Farrah Kilgo March 25, 2011 - 10:08 pm

You’ve included loads of great information! Thank you for posting. My district has recently been working on social media guidelines for educators: http://www.ecboe.org/163710827104812127/blank/browse.asp?A=383&BMDRN=2000&BCOB=0&C=69813 I’ll pass along your article.

coolcatteacher March 26, 2011 - 12:23 am

Thank you!! I will look at this when I get back online! Thank you!

Vicki Davis
Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Building the bridges of today that the society of tomorrow will walk across.

Sent from my iPod touch

Jenifer Powell March 26, 2011 - 2:45 am

This is a hot topic in our school and I really appreciate your thoughts. I have really been playing with the idea of a Facebook page just for my students and you’ve given me more to think about. Thank you!

Kari March 26, 2011 - 4:48 am

I honestly don’t get how you purport to know so much about technology and social networking and spend a considerable amount of time putting this blog post together, but then make the statement “Facebook has allowed “listing” which lets you specify “friends” “coworkers” “high school friends” etc. and specify what content goes to which. I’m not smart enough to keep up with the complexity myself.”

Ummm, REALLY??? What’s so difficult about that? You have lists, and you can set each list to a different privacy setting, and you can choose which lists you post to by default, or select the lists you want to post to each time you post. You can even control which lists are able to send you messages, which lists can see your friends list, etc.

I friend students. I also have a specific list just for them. This list is restricted so that they can’t see:
– any of my default wall posts (unless I specifically select my “students” list, but even then when I post to that one, I ONLY post to students, so that my other friends can’t see it)
– anything anyone posts on my wall
– any of my photo albums except for the one of my profile pics
– anyone on my friends list (you can even restrict that, it’s just on the privacy screen under “Connecting on Facebook” rather than “Sharing on Facebook”)
– any pages or anything else that I “like”

In fact, my default setting for EVERYONE is to keep them from being able to see my friends’ list. That way, even if one of my friends was a “creeper” and wanted to stalk my students or my children, they wouldn’t be able to, because they can’t see my friends’ list, and since any posts that I post to my students are ONLY to my students, they can’t find my students that way either.

I agree with you on the benefits of social networking awareness, but for pete’s sake, don’t stick your head in the sand and pretend you’re too stupid to understand some of the exact things Facebook puts in place to help customize security settings. I really REALLY hate it when teachers don’t allow students to say things like “I just don’t get math” and then turn around and throw up their hands and say “I just don’t get technology.” In my opinion, this level of internet security/privacy is MUCH simpler to comprehend than beginning Algebra.

So go figure it out already, educate yourself, and come back and write another blog post about it. Preferably one that’s not quite as full of unnecessary panic about the dangers of the internet.

hobo March 26, 2011 - 12:36 pm

facebook has some merits and also some demerits now its depend upon the person that how he or she manage to do good work
High shcool diploma

Karen Stadler March 26, 2011 - 12:36 pm

Hi Vicki, what a great article on an issue I have raised both with the parents at my school and with the teachers at my school, many of whom happily ‘friend’ their current and past pupils. I have always encouraged parents to ‘friend’ their underage children (obviously only those on FB with parent knowledge), but you have put a totally new spin on the issue for me and now I have some more fuel for my “fire”. I have two profiles on FB – one private and one work-related and it works for me. I am going to post a link to my IT Centre blog too, as I know some of our parents follow it (it’s a fairly new blog). I will also bring it to my principal’s attention.
By the way, I LOVE FB and am on it every day, but I am realistic and totally understand its ramifications… well done again on a great article.
Karen Stadler
Cape Town, South Africa

Carmel Galvin March 27, 2011 - 9:59 am

Thanks Vicki, just added a link on our Library Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Arthur-Holt-Library/189265321099538?sk=wall

gwynethannejones March 27, 2011 - 2:35 pm

Brilliant posting! And though “listing” & the new privacy settings can totally tailor your FB experience as Kari said in her comment, I just don’t trust FaceBook to change, drop, or totally FAIL their interface. Thus, I have a professional FB page I don’t visit much plus I started a community page for my Middle School because I want my kids, parents & the community to be able to find our school wherever they might look. Twitter is my PLN home but yeah…If we mean to teach Facebook we have to understand Facebook. But we don’t have to love it. LOL
~Gwyneth Jones
The Daring Librarian

C Haynie March 27, 2011 - 10:45 pm

The situation described in this blog is all too common. A recent situation at our elementary school divulged the truth that most parents are not aware of what their children are writing on Facebook. It is “in writing.” The advice offered to the parent invovled was to print the child’s statements and be prepared for when the police knock on the door. Ingorance would probably not be the best way to handle the situation.

I agree that Facebook cannot be ingnored. There are advantages and disadvantages as with anything. Even though the age requirement is set at 13, many children younger than that have accounts. Instruction for these underage users needs to be addressed.

Jane Lofton March 28, 2011 - 3:14 am

Thanks for this informative posting. I’ve added a link to my website at http://www.mchslibrary.org/parents-guide-to-facebook.html

coolcatteacher March 28, 2011 - 10:13 am

Hi again Kari – I’ve just spent another 20 minutes in privacy settings and CANNOT find the setting that does not let my friends see each other. Where is it. I do not see a default that protects my friends list? I have educated myself and perhaps there is something in your facebook privacy settings that is in beta?

I’ve looked everywhere. It would be very simple and perhaps is something that we can suggest. Happy to update. I think I was a bit angry earlier and may have flamed back a bit.

Let’s try to learn from each other.

essp web March 28, 2011 - 6:56 am

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college papers March 28, 2011 - 11:21 am

Thanks to all of you for sharing nice article..it was amazing to read off this article…

Cynthia Karabush March 28, 2011 - 7:42 pm

Nice answer to an inflammatory comment, Vicki. I have been using lists on Facebook for a long time, and search for those “individualized list privacy” settings every time someone mentions them, to no avail.

People get nasty when they’re seeing something that seems obvious to them – our students, and even we as teachers, do it. How often do we find that we ourselves overlooked something just as obvious – that we have a newer or beta version, or a permission or “view” setting that is different?

Ethically, I think if Facebook claims to be providing this function, THEY owe it to users to make it clear how to use it. Realistically, I know we’ll only find it by learning from each other, as you say: I’ll be watching for a constructive explanation of where and how to change those settings.

coolcatteacher March 28, 2011 - 11:12 pm

Me too! I have also looked everywhere!! I cannot find them!!! Thank you for jumping in. I really had to go back to the drawing board to see if I had made a mistake. I take my responsibility to be accurate very seriously. If you find something, let me know!!!

Vicki Davis
Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Building the bridges of today that the society of tomorrow will walk across.

Sent from my iPod touch

Suzie Nestico March 29, 2011 - 2:22 am

Here is a much tidier version of FaceBook “Listing” https://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=137948147130 via @gcouros than the over-lengthy explanation I provided on how to do this in reply to your most recent Digital Citizenship post.

Suzie Nestico March 29, 2011 - 9:26 am

What are you using to create the graphics in this post? Some look similar to some I’ve sen from ‘the book’ and was just wondering how you are making them (if it’s something you can share).

coolcatteacher March 29, 2011 - 10:02 am

I just used Powerpoint smartart and exported as a jpg – nothing fancy and I can do it very quickly.

Jenni Leeds March 29, 2011 - 5:22 pm

Fantastic post. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and insight on this topic – especially the section on digital citizenship programs. This subject comes up regularly, and I’m so happy when I find posts like yours to share with staff. As the “social media person,” I can shout this from the rooftops all day long (and I do…), but seeing the same info from a teacher who is putting these concepts into practice helps immensely.

Sarah Bauguss March 29, 2011 - 2:49 pm

This may have been addressed already somewhere in the many comments, but just in case: When you log in to Facebook, choose Account, Privacy Settings. One of the top items that shows up is Connecting on Facebook. Here you can click on View Settings. There is a choice in the list of settings that comes up about who can see your friends list. This is more of a generalistic approach, but maybe it will do the trick for you. :)

coolcatteacher March 29, 2011 - 8:02 pm

I looked but didn’t see this – what is it named exactly?

coolcatteacher March 29, 2011 - 8:02 pm

Thank you for your comments. I, like many, are struggling with this.

Julie Lindsay March 30, 2011 - 4:42 am

Vicki, thanks for the blog post, I have learned a lot. Being in China, FaceBook is officially blocked, however many students (not all) continue to use it, as do adults, by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) software to get around the great firewall.
At school (Beijing BISS International School) we are developing a new student activity group called Global Issues Network (GIN) that is part of a global network of students taking action to address and raise awareness and in fact try and solve global issues. We want to use Facebook as a tool to connect students around China and Asia and as a way to promote discussion and share resources and develop collaborations. However, we are challenged by the intricacies of Facebook and cannot work out the best way to do this. Should we start a Group or a Fan page or a new account? Should we start a new email address to do this? so there is no link back to our private accounts…but then of course if we all join the group/like the fan page etc, then there is a link back naturally, which is where we need to be more aware, as per your post, of how to protect our privacy. I am not an expert on Facebook, further advice from you or readers of this comment is welcome.

coolcatteacher March 30, 2011 - 10:34 am

Hmm – you are in China so there is a whole level of complexity there. Fan pages are a great way to go – but if you want some sort of moderation or privacy between you all, I’d go with a group. You can have private groups and with how things are in China you may want your group private. Most of us have a group and a fanpage. It is all in how you want to use it. Definitely DON’T have an account that they “friend” – they should friend each other only if they want to and not because they are required to for a course b/c most of them aren’t using lists.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to take a look over here! I know you have to fire up your VPN to read!

Ryan Stanley April 3, 2011 - 5:09 pm

I generally disagree with your approach. Facebook can (and has) changed privacy settings and even with “settings” things will leak out or re-shared. I find that even talking about FB privacy settings can mislead people. If they think they’re actually controlling the audience they might post things (presumably just with their FF’s) that get seen by the wrong eyes. My feeling is it’s better to teach people to let their settings be all open and only post what they’d like anyone in the world to see/know about them. If your FB posts are too risqué for your (of age, aka at least 14yo) child then why post them?

Kelly Faulkner April 4, 2011 - 12:30 am

wow, vicki, that certainly was thorough! i think it will help a lot of people, particularly parents, who are often clueless when it comes to fb. i personally find dealing with lists too much hassle. it’s simpler for me to just not friend students on fb, period. they have many other options to interact with me online.

however, i disagree about not friending your kids. as the mother of a teen, i think it’s *very* important to be involved in their online activities so that you can guide them, model proper online behaviour, and keep them safe online – where have they been tagged? photos? blogs? who has posted what to their wall? are these postings acceptable? who are their friends? people they actually know? how are their female friends portraying themselves online (13-14 yos are absolutely shocking). when my dd was a younger teen, this was ESSENTIAL. i can’t state strongly enough how important it is for parents to seriously monitor their children’s online lives until they are of an age where they have some experience and maturity, and by being their “friend” on fb, you have access. my dd is nearly 18, so she no longer needs my overview. but those learning and growing years from 13-16 were crucial. (and she still wants me to be her friend on fb!)

coolcatteacher April 4, 2011 - 11:41 am

I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. I think children should always set themselves to friends only to protect their own privacy – even if somewhat. My postings are open to friends of friends but I am an adult and have made a conscious decision of what I’m going to release. The brain isn’t really able to see long term until around 20 or 21 – how can a child make an effective lifetime decision at a young age when they aren’t really able to see long term anyway? I think we have to teach them to be wise.

That being said. I agree that one shouldn’t say ANYTHING online unless you’re willing for EVERYONE to see it. We must all realize and know that. we should still protect our kids, though. I’ve had children’s photos taken and misused in ways that caused them great emotional distress and this is NEVER ok. Surely, you’re not talking about children having their profiles open?

coolcatteacher April 4, 2011 - 11:42 am

I think that if parents want to friend their kids that they should make an account for jUST that purpose. Otherwise, you’re opening a door between your adult friends and your children. As a public blogger I don’t want people to be able to find my children and see anything about them = so I actively monitor in other ways. Yes – monitor – but I think we probably disagree with how – I think our adult friends and our kids should be separate.

Highschooldiploma Shd April 15, 2011 - 1:08 pm

Great article thanks for sharing it.
Ged Online

Ged Online April 15, 2011 - 1:54 pm

Thanks for sharing such a great article to read
Ged Online

Ben April 18, 2011 - 2:13 pm

Not to completely short circuit all of the wonderful work that you’ve done here Vicki, and it is an excellent road map for how to more safely use Facebook with your students.

However, By creating a page on Facebook, one that students could then “like”, and then interact with you and your class through the page, would that not negate the need to jump through all of the security, privacy, and settings that Facebook puts up for you?

coolcatteacher April 18, 2011 - 11:42 pm

I’m not sure what you’re saying, Ben. The problem is that Facebook doesn’t have enough security, privacy, and other settings. They don’t really set anything up FOR you. If they would make it that we could wall off our friends from one another it would be better – but they don’t.

The Facebook Page or a Facebook group would allow you to interact with your students and NOT require them to friend each other or you. It is the friending problem that causes the issues.

Michelle Barton May 1, 2011 - 6:16 am

Outstanding Article Vicki. I’ve been following your stuff for years and will most definitely use this in my Internet Safety Classroom. I just checked out Kidswirl. It had too many ads to recommend it to my students however.

What would you recommend covering in your Facebook Fridays (outside the obvious of helping students fix their settings so they are the safest they can be)? I teach Internet Safety as an elective to about 80% of our 6th graders in a 6-8 middle school.

coolcatteacher May 1, 2011 - 11:35 pm

Kid swirl has ads now!,!!! When I tested it, it did not! We need a new one. How disappointing. Thank you for letting me know I need to re-review thAt site. I would say go with edmodo or woogi world, then.

Vicki Davis
Sent from my iPad

Nikhil1543 May 9, 2011 - 12:45 am

Wonderful article !

Nick Jackson May 23, 2011 - 11:52 am

 Very well put together and messages that all education should be reading. There is a further issue re the impact Facebook is having on students in schools particularly around behaviour and bullyinig. I alluded to this on a post: http://largerama.creativeblogs.net/2011/04/24/dealingwithfacebook/ but so far I have made little headway in trying to figure out how schools can deal with the problems use of Facebook has arguably escalated for many schools. I would welconme discussion on this

John Bidder May 30, 2011 - 9:25 pm

Late to the party here but nonetheless a very helpful article I can associate with fully.  I’m mid-project with a local primary school where the Head Teacher (UK) has been a great collaborator as we get her and the school into Facebook. Your thinking is well aligned with mine & vice versa. See her guest blog post from this week on my site at http://www.socialschoolmedia.com/  Great stuff Vicki – its been a long time since WikiVille! John Bidder

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere
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