Kids Blogging Embarrass their Public Parents

The implication of not teaching blog-ethics is profound.

In the Article in the Washington Post: Kids Say the Dardest Things in Their Blogs, (hat tip Bloggers Blog) we learn that Wayne Watts, senior Vice President of AT&T, is having to answer to regulators for disparaging remarks his son Jared makes about Cingular (a subsidiary of AT&T).

The article says:

Unlike their parents, today's youth have grown up in the age of public disclosure. Keeping an Internet diary has become de rigueur; social lives and private thoughts are laid bare. For parents in high-profile positions, however, it means their children can exploit a generational disconnect to espouse their own points of view, or expose private details perhaps their parents wish they would not.

Futhermore, the gossip site, goes through the web ferretting out what the children of newsmakers are doing on the web. What are they finding?

California Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray's younger-than-21 daughter Briana posted a series of pictures of herself on MySpace, including one where she poses with a cooler full of Miller High Life. Last fall, NBC star Tim Russert's son, Luke, posted a photo of on Facebook of himself clutching a cup and posing with four bikini-clad women in a hot tub.

The article goes on to summarize the state of blog awareness in America:

“Many of them don't think they are committing public acts by posting a blog, but the power of search is that it makes it pretty darn easy to find,” said Lee Rainey, founding director of Pew. Parents and increasingly school systems are warning children about the implications of posting things on MySpace, for example, he said. But parents are only starting to become aware of their own vulnerability, he said. “Things that used to be inside familiars or within a small audience now have a global audience.”

The Case for Progressive Internet Freedoms in the Classroom

Kids don't drive alone when getting their license. They get a learner's permit. We know that it is wise to have someone in the passenger seat who can advice and warn so that no permanent damage is done (hopefully.)

Likewise, we must get in the passenger's seat and guide students into their experience on the Internet while still in high school. Will they make mistakes? Yes, it is part of learning! Kids aren't born walking and they aren't born blogging ethicly either!

I have to go back and advise students and suggest that they take things down all of the time! It is part of learning. However, the difference is I am teaching and they are responding.

What about walled gardens?
OK, a walled garden could be the first step, but it is not the final step. Kids do not live in walled gardens. They will graduate to a very real, shark infested Internet world that will prey upon their ignorance.

We must not let them graduate ignorant. We must teach them how to blog, post, and converse in meaningful ways and understand the implications of everything they do.

Meanwhile, some bloggers are pannicking as their mother's start blogging! Without wisdom, family spats can take on a whole new, very public dimension! (It works both ways!) And don't forget, if you have a disgruntled student, they too can take your weaknesses public!

It is a new world and a new day. Education must evolve to combat the ignorance of appropriate content that has accompanied our knowledge of technology.

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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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Andrew Pass Educational Services, LLC October 15, 2006 - 3:52 am

Vicki, I’m wondering why you posted the two above posts together? Perhaps because if we teach students how to use the Internet effectively and maturely we won’t have to worry as much about what is written? The only problem is that I’m not sure if human society has ever figured out how to self regulate what we say and do. I’m not sure if we can ever really teach students to be fully cognizant of what they write on the Internet. After all, people say hurtful things all the time. But this definitely shouldn’t stop us from trying. Thanks for the posts.

Andrew Pass

janet pedersen October 16, 2006 - 8:13 pm

Vicki, I think you said the most important thing to remember in this new world of blogging and students:

“We must teach them how to blog, post, and converse in meaningful ways and understand the implications of everything they do.”

I’m trying to do the same in an elementary school setting. Thanks for the reminder.

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