MySpace: Learning the Ropes






 Elgin Community College offers social networking class

Many public schools block social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook to protect their students.  I know that this is going to sound far-fetched, but to me this is the equivalent of purchasing a gun and locking it up in cabinet so that your children can’t be harmed by it.

What happens to those children if the cabinet is left unlocked or they decide they just have to see the gun and break into the cabinet?  If they have not been taught how to handle a gun, then the consequences can be dangerous.

Same situation with MySpace and other social networking sites.  As educators, we are supposed to prepare children for life beyond (and just outside of) school.  Many have access to the Internet at home, a friend’s house, or public library.  What they post can be detrimental to their future employability, but we can’t effectively communicate this to students when it is “off limits.”

It is sad that students have to graduate from high school before they are offered classes that teach them how to safeguard themselves and their future when using social networking sites. 

How to change this?  First, we have to do the research needed to support our belief that teaching in the safety of the classroom is better than having students explore when unsupervised.  (Hmm, this sounds familiar.  Sex education classes?)  Research which shows that employers often look at these sites before hiring a potential employee will help underscore the necessity of teaching students what is acceptable to post.

Then we have to familiarize educators with the social networking sites that are most frequently used by our students.  We have to provide positive examples to shake the negative stereotypes commonly held by many educators. Then we must share examples of non “R” rated sites which push the limits and jeopardize the creator’s future employability.

What else do we need to do to promote responsible use of social networking sites?  Your ideas would be greatly appreciated as I go to bat for my students.


3 Responses to “MySpace: Learning the Ropes”

  1. jrep Says:

    “Use” (responsible or otherwise) has dynamic aspects, as well as the static one of “where did you go today.” What exactly are the (ir)responsible dynamics of social networking? Choosing friends, choosing topics, proof-reading twits, come to mind.

  2. Lem Says:

    You are so right. I recently finished library school and learned about 2.0 this and 2.0 that. I am a huge advocate but just about everything 2.0 is blocked in every school.It is so frustrating. I, too, believe that children should be introduced to the purpose and benefits of social networking tools in a supervised and safe environment. Many public libraries have MySpace pages — here is one in Denver.

    I don’t see any reason why a school library couldn’t have something like this. You know, the more you censor, the more the kids will want. I wonder if MySpace would have been a passing fad if people didn’t make such a big deal over it.

  3. Adam Says:


    When it comes to teaching responsible use, I think the key word is, “USE.” We can talk about safety and good decisions all we want, but until we have students using it they won’t have an appreciation. Despite our best efforts will kids make mistakes? Probably, but with guidance they shouldn’t be big ones, and those mistakes can provide the most teachable moments. It’s one thing to talk about some kid somewhere did this, but when they (or a classmate) make the same mistake it becomes much more real.


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