Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Principal sues students, parents over MySpace page

This article is not an argument for necessarily teaching students blogging as such (although I think it would be very helpful) and it certainly is not an argument in support of the alleged red necks that Leigh Blackall has posted about.

It is more about teaching students about being street/cyber smart and understanding that defamation is defamation, no matter what media. In some ways it is more stupid to do it electronically because of the difficulty of recovering from childhood ignorance. Erasing their mistakes.

It has been appropriate to hold parents accountable for the actions of their children over all sorts of things including vandalism. I guess that it naturally follows that this should follow on into the cyber world. I worry that parents will just attempt to fix this by filtering and leaving the safety of their children to machines. It is a short term solution with long term consequence for the moral and ethical training of their children.

This is a great article to bring students attention to help them to understand and perhaps ignite some debate about the ethics involved here. It will also force some understanding of the cyber world and have students improve their understanding of how the internet works. To do this teachers need to have some idea about the cyber world.

Some understanding of the internet questions to ask include:
  • What credentials are needed to set up a MySpace account?
  • How then did the authorities work out who was responsible?
  • How does content filtering work?

Some ethical and issues questions to ask include:
  • Is it appropriate for parents to be sued from something that is so difficult to supervise?
  • Is content filtering good?
  • Should people under 18 be allowed to blog and publish on the internet?
  • Should MySpace be sued for being the medium for this alleged defamation?

What might be some other questions that we should pose to students to help them to become more cyber smart?


  • At 5:33 pm, Blogger Bill Kerr said…

    Thanks for the link to this article, wara

    I agree, it is a good discussion starter for my students on the issue of online harrassment

    As well as the overt harrassment it's very interesting how much personal self disclosure that you can observe on MySpace or LiveJournal these days. It seems that it is just the new way to relate for a growing percentage of the youth.

  • At 12:01 am, Blogger Bill Kerr said…

    I did distribute and discuss this article with my year 11 IT class today, as a "one off". No real surprises in the student reaction but I asked them to blog some reflective thoughts on the article and discussion at the end. Some of their blogs were becoming quite lengthy. I still haven't read them yet but am looking forward to it.

  • At 5:46 pm, Blogger Bill Kerr said…

    This is a good response from one of my students (dora the explorer) on the myspace issue

    One thing I learnt from doing this is that I should have more discussions like this in class, so that students get into the habit of discussing more. It can be hard to manage this due to pressure from the regular curriculum. Poor excuse.


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