School to monitor students’ social media posts

In an interesting development, CNN is reporting that a California school district is spending over $40,000 on monitoring students’ Facebook posts, comments, tweets and the like for  a year.

The district in Glendale, California, is paying $40,500 to a firm to monitor and report on 14,000 middle and high school students’ posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media for one year.

Though critics liken the monitoring to government stalking, school officials and their contractor say the purpose is student safety.

As classes began this fall, the district awarded the contract after it earlier paid the firm, Geo Listening, $5,000 last spring to conduct a pilot project monitoring 9,000 students at three high schools and a middle school. Among the results was a successful intervention with a student “who was speaking of ending his life” on his social media, said Chris Frydrych, CEO of the firm.

Do you think this is a good way to keep students safe or an invasion of privacy? Read the whole story and see the video here.

Fears for generation online taken too far?

This article, published by Essential Kids, will help put parents’ minds at ease when it comes to worrying about the dangers their children may face online.

Fears for generation online taken too far? explains:

Every era has its own moral panic, and there’s no doubt in many minds that the peril stalking today’s children comes cloaked in the garb of social media. It’s not surprising that many parents, teachers and health professionals are worried when headlines regularly implicate online social media as a factor in everything from school bullying to teen suicide…  The truth is that most kids above a certain age use social media and online networking sites, and the vast majority do so without major incident.

If you read the comments on pretty much any article about the internet gone wrong you’d be forgiven for thinking that for most kids it’s a jungle out there and that inattentive parents are to blame, but the actual figures show that only 3% of children using the internet experience some kind of threatening event online and 98% of parents implement safety and security strategies around internet use at home.

Read the whole piece here.

Tweets can be used as evidence

In the last few months, tweets and Facebook posts by people who have allegedly committed crimes have led media and police directly to them. Now comes the news that tweets can be used in evidence by courts of law. The Age reports:

London: British lawyers have warned that people’s tweets could be used as evidence against them, after a California teenager had a manslaughter charge upgraded to murder partly because of boasts on Twitter. 

Barrister Mark McDonald told Britain’s Metro newspaper: ‘‘ The police … may ask someone alleging rape to send a message to the person they are accusing asking why they did it. Their reply can then be used in evidence.’’

 

Joining your teenagers on Facebook improves your relationship

Although I’m sure many teenagers would disagree, the Huffington Post is reporting that parents who friend their teenage children on Facebook enjoy a stronger relationship than those who don’t.

There’s a new study out of Brigham Young University that says engaging with your kids on social media sites helps strengthen your bond. The study found that teens who were the most connected to their parents on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media felt closer to them in real life. Those teens were also less likely to be depressed, delinquent or behave aggressively.

However, article author Ann Brenoff states that

I am unconvinced of the value of parent-teen bonding versus the potential harm of a misstep by a kid on social media. Learning to use social media safely and appropriately is a process. Some kids get it and some kids will learn it the hard way. For now, I will continue to monitor my kids’ online gaming activities, perform spot Instagram checks just like the spot urine tests given athletes — all the while teaching my kids about what is safe and appropriate “sharing” with real and virtual friends. The Internet is full of land mines and parents shouldn’t need social media to talk to their children about it or anything else.

Read the whole article here.

Helping families live safe digital lives

Yoursphere for parents provides an amazing array of resources on

  • Facebook must-knows
  • social media
  • cybersafety and
  • privacy

for students and parents. Although some posts are US specific, most of the resources are applicable to us in Australia.

Mary Kay Hoal is the author and creator of Yourshpere, a US based site with a wealth of information on ways to keep safe when using social media. “She is an Internet safety expert in the USA and the founder of Yoursphere.com.”

I’m 13 and none of my friends are on Facebook

Last week, Mashable published this post on the waning appeal of Facebook by a New York teenager.

Now, when we are old enough to get Facebook, we don’t want it. By the time we could have Facebooks, we were already obsessed with Instagram. Facebook was just this thing all our parents seemed to have.

Let’s say I get invited to a party, and there’s underage drinking. I’m not drinking, but someone pulls out a camera. Even if I’m not carrying a red Solo cup, I could be photographed behind a girl doing shots. Later that week, the dumb-dumb decides to post photos from that “amazing” party. If my mom saw I was at a party with drinking, even if I wasn’t participating, I’d be dead. This isn’t Facebook’s fault, but it happens there.

Facebook is also a big source of bullying in middle school. Kids might comment something mean on a photo of you, or message you mean things. This isn’t Facebook’s fault, but again, it does happen there. If my mom heard I was getting bullied on Facebook, she would tell me to quit right away.

An interesting insight into teenagers’ thoughts about social media. Read the whole post here.

Parents underestimate risk of cyber-bullying for teens

Recently The Sunday Age published a report stating that

Nearly 80 per cent of Australian children under 10 years of age use social networks. Among older teenagers – those 16 and 17 – parents underestimate bullying and risky online behaviour. But the most likely candidate for cyber-bullying is a 14 year old girl who checks her Facebook account daily.

By the time teenagers are 16, parents start to underestimate the likelihood of their child being bullied or involved in upsetting experiences. Only 17 per cent of parents said their 16-year-old was bothered by something on the internet, but 26 per cent of teenagers of that age said they suffered through an upsetting experience.

What is of concern is that once parents believe that their work is done, that their children know how to successfully navigate the social media world is when they are actually most at risk.

Read the whole article here.

 

How to stay private on Facebook (yes, again…)

Last week, The Age reported that controlling your privacy on Facebook is about to become a whole lot easier.

If you’ve never played with your Facebook privacy settings, the first thing you’ll want to do is safeguard your future. On Facebook.com, click the little padlock on the top right, then under “Who can see my stuff” make sure “Friends” is selected – unless you want all your content to be public by default. As a further precaution, if you have a particular Facebook friend who you want to hide stuff from – a relative or a boss perhaps – add them to a “restricted list”. This will keep them as a friend but hide anything not set to “Public” from them, without their knowledge. To restrict a friend, go to their profile, hover your mouse over the “Friends” box, select “Add to another list” and then select “Restricted”.

The article also explains how to untag yourself in photos and how to see what your profile looks like to other users. Read the whole article here.