Hmmm … Before I signed up to Facebook in late 2008 I hadn’t had the Internet at home for quite a while, by choice. I believed that it took too much of my quality life time (lol – I think I was right). Also, teenagers weren’t really using it. It was My Space at that time I think.
Anyway, I found that Facebook was amazing for maintaining contact with my cousins and aunts in Germany and Finland. It also enabled me to touch base with ex students. I received some beautiful personal messages and still do from time to time. I now operate two Facebook accounts. I have current students on my public account, and family and friends on my personal account.
Technically, our Code of Conduct precludes current students from being on any of my Facebook accounts. But I have found throughout the last seven years that it provides an avenue for kids to reach out in a way they can’t face to face. My social media presence has saved a couple of teacher’s jobs when false allegations have been made, and I have been able to deal with some bullying situations before they have turned to violence.
Having said all of this, if I were a parent, my kids would not have Facebook (as an example) until they were older. Much older.
For teenagers, it isn’t a nice place.
It provides an outlet for en masse bullying and harassment. It provides an avenue for the fast spread of misinformation, rumours and lies. And it permits reactionary attacks that would not happen if the children involved had to wait until the next day to say it to someone’s face.
Yes, if kids are educated about the online world, appropriate behaviours, social and legal consequences, this type of abuse may be reduced. But seriously, the adolescent brain acts on impulse and not considered thought.
I wish for the children that I love, that they develop the ability to stop and think, seek counsel, and process the likely consequences before they act.
No one likes to be called out on Facebook. At least most adults (?) stop and think (not the trolls) before they post. I hope my kids start to.