Today at school a fellow teacher had taken an iPhone from another student. This student was recently in trouble for writing inappropriate things, so when the teacher saw that Facebook was opened on her phone, she took a look. This student had been sending messages to other boys who were 10-20 years older than her, sending pictures, and inappropriate messages… messages that I couldn’t believe when I was shown them. This is a good student, who typically gets As and Bs, but who didn’t understand what she was really doing. I went over and talked to this student and her friends about the dangers of social media and things like Facebook, MySpace, twitter, and Craigslist when you don’t really know who you really are talking to.
Its weird to think how the world of the internet has changed us over the past few years. When I was in middle school, the only thing we had was AIM, and MySpace was just being invented. There was no Facebook to stalk your friends on or Craigslist to look for those “missed connections” in your life. It is scary what the world is coming to when I have 12-year-old students receiving friend requests by 30 year olds. I hope what I talked to the girls about today helped. I hope they understand that it’s not that we are trying to punish them or get them in trouble, but that we are legitimately concerned for their safety in life. That I’m worried one of my kids is going to be taken by a creepy old person who likes children. That my students are going to be stuck in a scam and have credit issues or identity theft. When I think about all of the joys of technology, it really does scare me when I think of how innocent and naive my students can be.