Have online safety measures gone too far?

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Tonie Pop
A few things have come across my path in the last few weeks that have made me raise an eyebrow. During one aspect of my final COETAIL project I was asking the students to upload a blog post (nothing unusual about that) I then made it very clear to them that I was going to send links to their blogs to as many people as I could connect with via twitter and other COETAIL cohorts.

GASP!! “You mean a total stranger is going to read what I say?” hopefully.” They are going to leave comments on my blog?” again, hopefully. This brought a very strange reaction from a group of students who were regular netizens of the facebook, tumblr variety. They were not keen at all!! This astounded me as the ones that were on Facebook had well over 400 friends a lot of whom they had never actually met. So I am wondering


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Janneke Hikspoors: http://flickr.com/photos/barlowgirls/2211431161/


“What’s the difference?”

A few things I think.

1. There is still a perception (a small one) that a freaky person is going to find out everything about you from one blog post and do all sorts of horror movie stalker moves. This perception is still there and sites like Take this Lollipop and The museum of me illustrate very well what can be found out about you online.

On the plus side of this observation is students are VERY aware of their privacy settings and who can see what. I attempted to have my students setup their own twitter account and start tweeting with particular hashtags (#nistsci10e if your interested) and many of them had their privacy settings maxed out. This made their tweets unsearchable and I was left wondering if they were following instructions.

2. Teenagers go through similar quality control measures when it comes to adding people to their social network. Do they have similar friends as me? Do we have common locations/ interests/ Who are they friends with? etc etc this level of knowledge helps take the edge off when it comes to interacting with their network.

3. Students are concerned about people leaving negative comments on their blogs. Especially from strangers. They are of course teenagers and are particularly aware of peoples perception of them. They don’t want to be judged for their writing, their choice of pictures, their layout etc etc.

My theory on this is that they are exposed to so many negative conversations and general banter in their Facebook lives that they assume this will carry over to complete strangers. This makes them nervous.

Of course we all feel like that when putting something out on a blog. That is part of the reason why blogging is such a powerful learning tool as it FORCES you to think about every word you put out there. Even if there are three people in the world who read it, they are going to make judgement’s on your opinions. For a teenager this feeling of judgement is magnified.

It’s great that these students ARE being careful. BUT

Have they gone too far?

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by qousqous




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