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Kids don’t trust themselves to have unlimited Facebook access (non Wave version)

November 1st, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Sadly it seems my previous post can only be viewed by those with a Google Wave account. for those who don’t, here is a plain blog copy.

“I am ever more intrigued with the possibilities of Google Wave. If you do not have a wave account , please add comments to this post in the normal way. But if you do have a wave account, you are invited to directly reply and add your ideas within the wave.

Anyway on to the issues.

I have always advocated the use of social software for learning. The ability to develop and exchange ideas within a community seems to me central to how we can both develop our own learning and share that learning to develop and mature knowledge.

And social networking in allowing us to form and develop Personal Learning Networks – peer networks with whom we share learning and ideas.

Thus, I have always opposed attempts by institutions, companies and schools to limit access to social networking sites. Of course, companies are concerned about the amount of time employees spend on such sites – and indeed in surfing the web, watching sport, reading and talking to friends about matters not concerned to work. But, overall, I have tended to argue that the benefits outweigh the risks in allowing employees access. Many companies are wrestling with these issues and trying to come up with fair policies. One manager I talked to earlier this week explained they allow their employees one hour a day in work time to access whatever web sites they wish in work time. There is no blocking software but rather they trust employees not to abuse such access – although web usage is monitored. Indeed, that decision then leads to other policy issues in terms of who should have rights to request access to monitoring data and in what circumstances?

I am also firmly of the belief that the use of social networking software can be beneficial for younger learners and am sceptical about the ‘nanny software or lists of approved and blocked sites that many schools employ.

However, talking to students has caused me to pause and rethink some of these ideas. Almost unanimously, school age students are saying to me that they are feel distracted from their work by social networking software and particularly by Facebook. If they are allowed unfettered access, they say, they do not think they are strong willed enough to work. They support schools blocking access, not because of any safety concerns, but because they are worried they will not work if they can instead ‘play’ on line. They are even concerned that they spend too much time on Facebook at home, especially late at night (interestingly, not one student I have talked too has technically restricted access at home, although many say their parents limit or try to limit their time on Facebook).

What are the answers. I think it is urgent that we consider, not just how to teach children online safety, but how to start them thinking about how they use technology in their lifestyle. And with the widespread access to internet enabled mobile devices, let alone augmented reality, this issue is urgent.

What do you think? Add your comments or participate in this Wave.

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11 Responses to “Kids don’t trust themselves to have unlimited Facebook access (non Wave version)”

  1. You know, posts that won’t display unless you have a Wave account do NOT strike me as a step forward.

  2. Graham Attwell says:

    Agree Stephen – have been messing with plug in and had hoped it would display for all – anyone any idea if this possible?

  3. Nick Sharratt says:

    It would seem entirely reasonable to assume children need to be guided in their use of powerful tools as they are also educated in their use. The important thing is not to prevent any access to allow the learning of self moderation skills.

    Humans are naturally a gregarious species, and social interaction is incredibly seductive and absorbing such that we all need to be able to self moderate. With the web, our tribes have effectively exploded in size and our inherent drive to form and maintain the social links that are the necessary cohesive force to sustain those tribes can go into melt down, with a feeling that we need to socially stroke so many people that it is impossible to sustain.

    Is this something that can be taught or does it have to be learned? Do we need to guide youngsters through early experiences of ‘social web overload’ to embed the problems viccerally by experiencing the problems themselves, or can most people be advised of the issues and coping strategies to avoid having to experience it themselves?

    Is it even something any of us really learn or do we just repeatedly bounce off the limits of our own abilities to maintain extended social networks? Eg building larger networks until we reach a point of overload and then back off to a ‘core’ network before repeating again?

  4. Well I can see the wave, but I can not surf on it. Probbaly already exercising the power of restricting? 😉 my feeling is that this happens because I do not belong to the wave.
    So here are my thoughts.
    What I have witnessed – and that is even with HE students – is that just because you have access to the tools it doesn’t mean you know how to do with it. And there is much more to it than pushing buttons, which in many cases is still what happens when it comes to ICT training provision.

    We need to help individuals (and I am not only going to focus on your target group: pupils, but learners in general) in using these tools to their on learning advantage. And again the role of learning technologist and the educators in general becomes crucial. We are not to be replaced, but our role is to change. We have a critical role in instigating critical thinking and practice, encouraging collaboration and mentoring our learners abouts effective ways in which the web can be used to learn, foster their own personal learning networks and develop a reputable identity.

    These days everyone is using the web. Some use it as a reference book (just another way of accessing information), some use it to connect to their friends, but only few are using it as a new context to learning, where knowledge can be develops socially, informally and in community.
    As danah boyd refers in her phd research youth uses Social Networks Sites to socialise, not to network! That is the area we need to taccle… how to foster networked and communal learning effectively. There is a lot to be done there. First we need to prepare our educators so the can prepare the learners.

  5. Great timing on this post. I just finished up interviews this week with 7th graders constructing personal learning environments in their life science class. They have full access to FB, IM, and email as part of this project. When asked what the biggest online distractions are when using the Internet outside of class, nearly all respond FB or instant messaging. However, this teacher does something interesting at the start of each class. The students have 10 minutes (out of a 100-minute class) when they arrive to take care of personal business. This includes email and IM. He asks that students not access their FB accounts from school explaining that since they’re not using it for learning, it’s something you should wait to do from home or between classes on your phone. This is part of teaching students that there are appropriate times and places for personal business. He actively discusses this with the students during each class. Getting the email and IM out of the way leaves them free to focus the rest of the class period on work. Amazingly, this is what they do…work. The kids also know they are unique from other students at the school and their behavior will dictate whether this type of learning continues. As you point out, we must actively teach students how to manage their time online, how to be digitally literate. From my experience, it’s not as much about “how” as it is about just doing it. My experience has been that kids will work within expectations 99% of the time. The biggest problem is that we’re using filters in lieu of instruction. Teachers must articulate expectations and provide ongoing support and guidance. This is missing from the curriculum.

  6. Hola a todos:
    Soy de Argentina, mi lengua materna es español, así opinaré usando los dos idiomas.
    De un modo revolucionario las innovaciones tecnológicas cambian la realidad y abren nuevas perspectivas. Las palabras claves serían:evolución, reacomodación, adaptación, conocimiento, creatividad, innovación, sabiduría, entre otros…

    “El saber en la actualidad se extrae de un individuo en permanente circulación” (Deleuze)

    Entonces, Si la idea es usar medios nuevos con una mentalidad antigua, seguiremos sin aprovechar la enorme cantidad de herramientas tecnológicas que tenemos a nuestra disposición.
    ¿Por qué muchas veces el aula y el mundo real no se parecen en nada? ¿Por qué muchos de nuestros alumnos usan las Ntics para comunicarse entre ellos y no para aprender?
    Siendo que uno de los pilares de la educación es la comunicación ¿No es extraño que suceda esto?
    Aprender es construir conocimiento. La tecnología actual permite comunicar, gestionarlo de una manera antes impensada.

    Gracias por pensar conmigo

    Hello everyone,
    I’m from Argentina, my native language is Spanish, so opinaré using both languages.
    In a revolutionary way technological innovations change the reality and new perspectives. The key words are: development, rearrangement, adaptation, knowledge, creativity, innovation, wisdom, among others …

    “Knowledge today is extracted from an individual in constant movement” (Deleuze)

    Then, if the idea is to use new media with an old mentality, we will not use the enormous amount of technological tools at our disposal.
    Why often the classroom and the real world do not look like anything? Why do so many of our students use ICTs to communicate among themselves and not to learn?
    Being one of the pillars of education is communication is not that strange to happen?
    Learning is constructing knowledge. Current technology allows to communicate, manage it in a way previously unthinkable.

    Thank you for considering me

  7. That’s exactly what I wanted to express Wendy. You really said it all.
    I believe that it is about mentoring about digital literacy in a way that it is embedded in one’s practice and is not learning digital literacy for the sake of learning it… not sure if this is clear, but it is like the teacher you described is doing.

    Meaning learning happens in practice, like you say. So it is our role, as educators to inspire new practices and help our students reflect about the reasons while we are doing so.
    Kids know how to use computers, connect to the internet, create accounts in Social Network Sites, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to use the web for learning. That is a totally different game. And the way forward is to guide them in effective practices. Engaging them in learning activities related to what they have to learn in class, in which they have to use the web to effectively achieve the challenges the teachers put forward seems to be a way forward.

    Thanks for sharing 😉

  8. Debby Cotton says:

    I enjoyed reading this post and the comments, as it’s an issue I’m very interested in. Having done some research on online distractions in the learning environment, very little here surprises me, and I think it’s great that this is being recognised as a problem. The conclusion I came to was similar to those expressed here – namely that pupils/ students need to be taught how to create an effective learning environment, and that this is something that they may find difficult (that actually we adults find difficult too! How many times do you switch back and forth between e-mail and twitter during the day? Yet, if I have an academic paper to write, I deliberately turn these off…) I also think that to some extent, we need to maintain boundaries between work and social activities – both to ensure that some work gets done, but also to maintain some non-work time (as an academic this is also something many of us find difficult – hence writing this on a Sunday evening sat on the sofa with husband and eldest child!) But I do think this is another skill which children would benefit from developing when young. The fact that children find the immersion in an online network problematic even at home (they feel that they’re on facebook too much in general) also seems to me to suggest an issue with drawing boundaries – which is something that parents could help with if they only understood what it was that their children were doing online!


  1. Re: Posts you can see only if you have Wave are NOT a step forward. Can anyone who is not Google search Wave content?


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