This year we rolled out blogs for all of our middle-school students at ASIJ. There was quite the resistance from some faculty who were worried that we would be exposing our students to internet predators so we have made a concerted effort to keep students last names out of the blogs. The funny thing is that all of the student email addresses at school have their last name and we don’t seem to be worried at all about that. Of course, we have found difficulty knowing which of our students have written which blog, but we have made ways of dealing with this issue. Since the statistics show that very few kids are actually exposed to online predators, should we be making these kind of rules to protect our kids from the very few ones that do get exposed to them? And even if my kid is exposed to one, wouldn’t I rather that be online rather than out in the streets where they can not protect themselves as well? I just don’t get this fear.
The other fear that parents have is that the kids are going to write something inappropriate that will follow them for the rest of their lives. I am sure that this happens on Facebook where almost all of my 8th graders have accounts, but should we really be worried that they will do this on a blog for school? Wouldn’t it be great for people to see the growth of kids from middle school on up as they write their blogs and try to have an impact on the world. Having a positive online resume could help these kids in their future. Won’t it impress other schools and even future businesses to see that kids have been taking their courses seriously or just commenting on their perspectives of life. The kids control what goes on their sites and they can be their own best advocates instead of leaving it to their teachers to write recommendations and give them grades. Wouldn’t an online portfolio tell colleges much more than a transcript would?
As I look over my school’s appropriate use policy and consider what we should really have, I am leaning on letting the kids put their last names on their blogs. Of all the bad things that might happen for every time someone does this, there must be dozens of good things.