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news & tips

A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

You’re Getting E-mails About WHAT?!?!

Korean PC Bang from Wikimedia CommonsJust the other day, while we were still on Christmas Break, I got a couple of forwarded e-mails from one of my upper elementary teacher colleagues.  Two students in her class got e-mail messages – which were blocked by Gaggle’s filters from ever getting to the kids – from Adult Friend Finder.  In case you don’t know, this is a pornography and other “adult content” website.  As you might imagine, I was less than pleased.


 

Today when we got back to school, I suspended both their e-mail accounts, forwarded the messages to my contact at Gaggle so he could blacklist the domains that had sent the messages, and I began my investigation.  Long story short, Student A had used his school e-mail address to try to set up a World of Warcraft account.  That’s a violation of our rules.  So that’s being dealt with.  Student B, however, had no idea how her e-mail address could have gotten “out there” on the Internet, so I dug a little deeper.  It’s true that she hardly ever uses her e-mail account, as I could tell by looking through her Inbox, Sent messages, and Deleted folder.  Ah, but then I noticed a deleted message from Student C, who had invited Student B to join Spineworld.  Good for Student B; she knew not to accept the offer and deleted the message.  Bad for Student C; he uses Spineworld with a home e-mail account, but he sent the invitation to his classmate’s school e-mail address.  Another rule violated.  We talked to the kids and I began drafting a letter to parents which my administrators will review before I send it out.  (Student B’s e-mail is restored; Student C’s is suspended.)

 

This got me concerned about a few things.  First of all, these three students are all about ten years old.  Should websites that appeal to them turn around and send them account setup confirmations from a website that is clearly aimed only at adults?  Second of all, what on earth is Spineworld, and why had I never heard of it? (I have since looked, and I realized that I hadn’t heard of it because it’s based in Sweden, appeals to children, and looks a bit dodgy, if you ask me.)  Third, since when is Christmas Break any excuse to disregard the paperwork parents and kids signed back in September?  I can only guess that parents aren’t fully aware what their kids are doing on the computers they have at home.  One parent happened to be at the school today volunteering, and I told her about Student A’s situation.  Her son’s version: she told him he could set up the WOW account as long as he didn’t use her e-mail address.  Mom’s version: she told him not to set up the account.  Ah, to be ten, and to have such a tenuous grasp on what adults really mean when they say no.

 

What worries me is that I think there is a lot of this going on in my school community, and very likely in yours as well.  Parents believe they are doing their part and guiding their children online.  And I believe that they are – that WE are – too.  But kids will always find a way around what parents dictate.  So my letter addresses the use of school e-mail addresses for online sites, including Facebook and MySpace, and takes the opportunity to remind parents what their kids are likely getting up to.  The minimum age for Facebook and MySpace is still 13.  My school of less than 500 students only goes up to about age 14.  Yet I know somewhere between fifty and a hundred kids have Facebook and/or MySpace accounts.  Most of them claim to have parental consent, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have to be lying about their ages on the sites to even get access.

 

Not sure how I feel about that.

 

Image Source: Korean PC Bang from Wikimedia Commons

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