The educational thoughts of Jason Epstein
THE PERSONAL VIEWS, OPINIONS AND COMMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE SOLELY THOSE OF THE BLOG’S AUTHOR IN HIS PERSONAL CAPACITY, AND ARE NOT ENDORSED BY ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY.
Anthony Orsini sent an e-mail blast to the Benjamin Franklin Middle School community in Ridgewood, New Jersey, on Wednesday, urging parents to take down their children's online profiles on Facebook and elsewhere. "There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!," he wrote. "Let me repeat that - there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!" The main problem, he wrote, is that tweens do not have the resilience to withstand internet name-calling. "They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause," he said.
On listservs and blogs, education researchers and teachers are beginning to discuss how to handle this latest online application. To most educators, filtering is never a preferred option. Teachers and media specialists almost uniformly choose to use opportunities like this to teach students how to make decisions about what’s appropriate on their own. “One of the responsibilities of working with students on the use of online resources is to make them aware of potential dangers so they can make informed choices,” says Deb Logan, librarian and media specialist for Mount Gilead (OH) High School, by email. “A discussion of online resources like Chatroulette offers a learning opportunity. These opportunities sometimes come at unexpected times.” But educators believe Chatroulette may be a bit different then other similar sites like Omegle.com and Facebook’s PopJam in that video is involved—and there’s no way to edit what pops up on the screen other than clicking “next” after it’s already appeared. There’s no lurking allowed on Chatroulette—once a user signs in, they’re visible to anyone who chances upon them, and anyone, in turn, is visible to them. Needless to say, there’s a bit of nudity and sexual play being reported on the site, and the swiftness of people moving from image to image doesn’t allow children to protect themselves—other than signing off.