February 20, 2006

MySpace hits home

There is so much out there on MySpace that it’s hard to ignore. This weekend I spent sometime and discovered the following:

  • There are 403 people between the ages of 18-21 within 5 miles of my house. (Moose Jaw is a town of 35,000)
  • Most don’t actually blog, they only post photos and receive comments. In that sense, I hope we stop calling MySpace a blog site when for the most part it’s simply a social networking site.
  • My daughter has a space…. as someone who considers themselves fairly in touch with my kids, this might seem shocking. In my defence she set up a site in the fall and has not updated it. We had a chat.
  • The “f-word” is pretty common place.
  • Most of the conversations, while not what I would consider appropriate was not malicious but mostly encouraging
  • Some sites are used to post their personal music and video productions.
  • I’m not opposed to the concept of myspace.

The overall experience felt somewhat voyeuristic but at the same time, while they may not be aware of how or who is reading their stuff, I’m sure they realize it’s not a private environment. I encourage all educators to spend some time browsing around your neigbourhoods.

So what do I do now? I’m sure most teachers and parents have no clue what’s going on, just like many of them have no clue about what these kids do outside of school. Obviously the discussion about privacy and appropriateness needs to happen both at home and at school. Yet I wonder with some students if this would change their online persona and actions. Many of these postings I feel are done for their shock factor and the more that read them the better.

  • So do we just let kids be kids and consider it a non-school issue?
  • Do we invade their perceived privacy and expose them?
  • By pointing this out, do we risk creating more of an audience for the inappropriate?

As Will writes,

I’m in no way condoning the harassment or the cheating, but I still think trying to take away from kids the technologies they communicate and learn with is the wrong approach. We can clamp down and ultimately fail as the kids and the technology overwhelm us, or try to educate and model and repurpose our curricula to take advantage of what these technologies offer.

I hope I can come up with a good strategy for creating meaningful conversation among teachers and parents that would help address the issue at a local level. I hope I can come up with a good strategy for creating meaningful conversation among teachers and parents that would help address the issue at a local level. It may even begin with Alec’s video suggested from the Daily Show.