We can't teach the new literacies soon enough
Cross-posted at ConnectedLive.
This morning's news reports tell us enough is enough. If a pair of Britain's young sporting hopefuls can lose all their funding in one fell swoop after doing what millions of other kids do on a daily basis, then what are the consequences for our kids when they reach the world of 'professionalism' too?
The story is this: two young tennis stars lose their funding after posting pictures and confessions on Bebo, the social networking site, that show them lauding a "lifestyle" (well, probably the odd weekend) of drink, partying and eating junk food. Welcome to the average world of the average UK teenager (although I'm sure plenty of readers of this blog may wish to disagree in relation to their own kids; you can, that's allowed, but I've taught enough to know that this story is far more frequently true than most adults care to believe).
Mind your language
Before you say it: it's not the fault of Bebo. Or Facebook. Or any of the other social neworks that our teenagers are using. It's the fault of... us. The whole village. A couple of things that these kids clearly did not know:
- Public profile means public: searchable, findable, befriendable;
- Google Cache = People Cache: if it was ever public, ever, then it stays public, forever in the Internet Archive. When you want to publish a picture from a drunken night out immediately compare it to the thing that means the most to you later in life. Would I want my kids to see me like this? When I'm a consultant doctor, politician, priest, building contractor going for a job, would I want the clients to see that?
- Who's a Friend these days? It's hard to know, and how often do you update the status of Contacts, Friends, and Top 8s?
- Your profession will start sooner than you think: these kids were 17 and 18, and have just lost everything they had. As the lotto slogan used to go, It Could Be You.
Social networks aren't bad, in the same way as a car isn't a bad thing. But if you don't know how to drive them then you're sure to have an accident one day, and you might well bring others down with you.
What's your Local Authority, Administration or school doing to prevent this happening next week to your students?