Parent Perspectives on Facebook and Social Media
We did an activity using DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats to explore the use of social networks, particularly Facebook at our school. Parents went around to six different stations to share their thoughts. Below is a summary of our conversation and next steps.
Participants seemed to be familiar with Facebook and many value it as an opportunity to maintain communication with friends all over the world and make connections with others. Some parents think that unblocking facebook allows us to make use of the teachable moments that come up during Facebook use. Many parents see the value of facebook for research and knowledge sharing, for establishing new connections with people of common interests, and for maintaining connections with friends in real life who live far away. Parents see that Facebook can be used for collaboration, for presentation to diverse audiences, and for re-connecting (e.g. with alumni).
One parent noted that Facebook is mostly used for gossip amongst young people. Some parents are worried that Facebooks is a waste of time and that students develop a false sense of privacy. A parent noted that children quickly learn how to circumvent monitoring, e.g. through the use of aliases, by deleting history, etc. Many parents are curious about how social networks can actually be used for learning and would like to see examples of this. Parents expressed concerns over privacy, both from “friends” in Facebook and in terms of how Facebook use their data. Concerns were also shared about cyberbullying, and how kids may present themselves on Facebook, as well as how others may present them, particularly through tagging and multimedia uploads. Parents would like to know how to regulate Facebook use and how to help their children maintain their privacy. This lead to a discussion of the role of parents in monitoring the use of social networks by their children. Parents were generally interested in knowing the protocols and expectations in other families.
We’re going to continue the conversation. I am currently planning another session for the end of September. This session will focus on Facebook and allow an opportunity for conversation around the challenges and questions that parents shared.
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