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, Wonkette.com 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.