Online Communitites: What Parents Need to Know
Types of Online Communities • Myspace: a networking website offering a community network of blogs, sign-in user profiles, groups, photos, and an internal e-mail system. According to Alexa Internet, as of May 2006 it is the world’s 4th most popular English-language website and the 8th most popular in the world. • FaceBook:a networking service for high school, college and university communities. • Friendster:is based on the Circle of Friends technique for networking individuals in virtual communities and demonstrates the small world phenomenon. • LiveJournal:is a virtual community where Internet users can keep a blog, journal, or diary. • Xanga:is both a blog service and a networking service. It is also a weblog community; on-line diaries and journals.
Why use online communities? • Networking • Diary entries • Chat with friends • Advertise events/Promotions • Post photos and videos • Hobby • Meet people with common interest • Have Fun!!!
Who’s Watching Your Student? • Friends and Family -You can keep in touch with old and new friends, as well as family members. • Employers -Employers have access to information that would be illegal for them to factor, such as race, gender, sexuality, group affiliations. -It can be seen as a letter of reference • Institutions and Schools -Reed College, school denied admission to an applicant in part due to his disparaging comments on Live Journal regarding the school. -CSUF Judicial Affairs can access your student’s online community if they have been accused of a policy violation and they are investigating the accusation. If a violation is found, your student’s status as a student could be at risk.
Who’s Watching Your Student? Continued… • Police -Police departments are increasingly using on-line communities to identify possible suspects. -Use postings to see where residence hall parties are scheduled to occur, etc. • On-line Predators -Numerous students have been stalked online. -Lehigh University, male student continued to request a meeting with a female student after she gave him her AOL screen name.
Dangers of Online Communities • Online communities provide a false sense of security. • Students put private information in a public venue. • Information that is posted can lead to some negative repercussions. • Can become time consuming. • Hard to tell what people’s intentions are because they are not face to face encounters.
Tips to Keep Your Students Safe • The default setting is set on “All Public.” Consider talking to your students about setting their profiles to private. • Students can make certain parts of their profile available to an exclusive list of friends. • Remember that when listed, addresses and private information can be seen by the public. • Encourage safety over popularity. • Encourage your students to think twice before posting anything on their profile that they would regret later.
What can I do as a Parent? • Be aware of issues related to online communities. • Talk with your student. -Open the lines of communication.
References/Resources • “Quick Clicks: You, Your Safety & Cyber Communities” – PaperClip Communications (Student Brochure) • www.wikipedia.org – “Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia” • http://www.mediafamily.org/online/index.shtml - “Mediawise: watch what your kids watch”