In a bizarre case reported by Gothamist, a principal at a New Jersey middle school is attempting to ban students from Facebook, texting and even Formspring. Really!? Principal Anthony Orisni from Benjamin Franklin Middle School wrote in a memo to parents that “there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! None.”
First of all, I would tell Mr. Orsini to take a chill pill. In this day and age, the average middle schooler, high schooler and college student regularly uses MySpace, Facebook and/or Twitter for completely normal reasons: to see how their friends are doing, to ask classmates when they want to hang out or work on a group project, or to harmlessly flirt the object of a crush. No harm done. Therefore, asking parents to ban their kids from using these social media platforms is simply ridiculous and unrealistic.

Granted, there are cases where social networking has been used for negative purposes such as bullying, harassing or instigating drama. However, these situations are often exceptions. I’m sure that Mr. Orsini has good intentions, but he’s missing the point. Attempting to ban students from using social networking will only make students retaliate and all the more eager to use it.

Perhaps what would be more effective is to ensure parents are well-aware of their children’s online activity (i.e., sel.ectively monitoring any Facebook or MySpace accounts). Or administrators could host a school-wide lecture for parents and students on the dangers that could arise from social networking and online bullying. As we enter an increasingly digitized age, social networking is only going to become more popular. Instead of trying to get rid of it, the real dilemma is figuring out how to ensure young kids moderately and effectively use their resources.

Photo via Mactropolis

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