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Gingersnap
04-29-2010, 12:26 AM
NJ Principal Asks Parents To Ban Social Networking

Benjamin Franklin Middle School Chief Says Students Should Be Cut Off From Facebook, Text Messaging
Reportin Lou Young

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. (CBS) ― Anthony Orsini, the principal at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, sent out an e-mail Wednesday morning asking parents to help him get all of his students off social networks and keep careful track of their text messages.A controversial proposal has students horrified at a Bergen County middle school on Wednesday. The principal is asking parents to join a voluntary ban on social networking.

Eighth grader Ali Feinberg told CBS 2 she uses her iPhone to check her Facebook account "a lot" and some of her friends said the same. Now all have to talk to their parents about getting off the popular social network. It won't be easy.

"I am very addicted to Facebook," Feinberg's classmate Elizabeth Dolan told CBS 2.

Anthony Orsini, the principal at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, sent out an e-mail Wednesday morning asking parents to help him get all of his students off social networks and keep careful track of their text messages.

"Please do the following: sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site. Today!

"Let them know that you will at some point every week be checking their text messages online! You have the ability to do this through your cell phone provider.

"Let them know that you will be installing Parental Control Software so you can tell every place they have visited online, and everything they have instant messaged or written to a friend. Don't install it behind their back, but install it!"

Although Orsini's e-mail is just a request, not an order, it's language is blunt:

"It is time for every single member of the BF Community to take a stand! There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!

"Let me repeat that - there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! None."

He said the sites have become a tool for children to do psychological harm to each other, often anonymously a trend known as "cyber-bullying."

"Rumors used to be some mean girl says something in the hall, but now it's out there for the whole world to look at," he told CBS 2.

Middle schools have always had drama and emotion, but the social networks amplify them to such an extent that guidance counselors there said it's become a menace to their students.

Interesting. The guy has a point. While the over 30 crowd may use social networking in a fairly sane way, the under 20 crowd doesn't. There's a huge amount of amplified peer pressure and bullying fueled by pseudo-anonymity.

Almost the very worst thing for a teen is to be around a lot of other teens 24/7. Social networking makes this literally possible. We are what we see. If we see (and hear/read/hang around with) mostly half-educated, inexperienced, and impulsive people this becomes our "normal".

I've noticed with tutoring that public school kids are very inhibited intellectually and very sensitive to praise/correction. Homeschoolded kids are much more willing to "look stupid" when they try new things and they are much less sensitive to praise or correction. In my experience, homeschooled kids more or less skip the insider/outsider, bully/victim dynamic that plagues a lot of group-schooled kids.

The homeschoolers I interact with all have parents who block social networks, limit surfing, and read IMs and emails. These parents are actually more tech-savvy than their kids in terms of tracking and blocking. Homeschoolers have their own social networks, of course. They are just more transparent and less verbally violent or sexual.

WCBSTV (http://wcbstv.com/technology/facebook.social.networking.2.1662565.html)