MySpace connected generation

Media reports have emerged about four families whose daughters were sexually assaulted by predators they met on the popular internet social network MySpace. They sued owner News Corp this week for negligence and fraud, the lawyers representing the families said in a statement.

At the same time, the latest ISTE SIG News for January lets us know that ISTE is in Myspace, reaching out to the connected generation.

This juxtaposition is a critical reminder of the need to establish and promote good online culture and behaviours. Technology educators realise that ‘the times, they are a changing’! and as Suzanne says

Wonderful! ISTE is on myspace! This will be a great resource for educators who check their myspace as often as they check their email.

While I admit to not being a regular user of MySpace yet, I know that Australian educators are rapidly moving into online places and spaces. Much has been written about these online issues, so we know that we have our work cut out for us in 2007 to improve our understanding and usage of online spaces.

The MySpace safety guide for parents from Teen Magazine is a helpful handout. As far back as March 2006 Stephanie summed up by saying:

Let’s be honest about what MySpace really is: It’s an online networking tool, orginally developed for the self-promotion of unsigned musicians and bands. There is nothing inherently evil or dangerous about MySpace.

However, like many online tools, it can be abused, and yes, there is danger when inexperienced web users like children and teenagers use a networking or communications tool with complete trust and little scrutiny of who they are communicating with.

My Space is a busy place! According to SirsiDynix OneSource June 2006, it is busier than Google, with 150,000 accounts being created daily. In the same article Stephen Abram asks important questions about the potential of MySpace and other social networking places.

MySpace can foster the learning of new literacies, and present opportunities for self-expression and friendship building. Our students are global citizens who are becoming smarter about new sources of information. What does it mean to be a good global citizen? Amongst other things, it means learning safe and ethical behaviours.

In the end, by being responsible adults on line, educators can act as role models for appropriate online behavior, providing a positive presence online for kids in their classrooms.

ISTE shows us one way!

I know our students are ‘digitally mobile’ (some would say fickle) and I haven’t had a personal need to get into MySpace or Beebo or any other online social networking homebase yet. That will come. The issue for me is not so much about what we use, but more about creating opportunities for learning (and responding) within the Web 2.0 world of our students.

Choose your tool(s) and get on with it 🙂

PS. Thanks to ISTE for listing HeyJude in
Our Top Ten Favorite Ed Tech Blogs for January

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