You Are What You Post

You Are What You Post
by Michelle Conlin

This Yahoo Finance article discusses the fact that that there is no such thing as an eraser on the Internet.” In times where our students are posting personal and provacative information about themselves in healthy does to sites such as MySpace and Xanga, this surely offers a teachable moment.

As educators, we can encourage our students to podcast and blog in an educational setting, while exposing them to the dangers of personal disclosure on the internet, while illuminating the future consequences of their impetuous actions.

I would also encourage you as educators to see what your students are posting about you and other teachers in your building. Search through MySpace, Xanga, Google and Rate My Teacher (and many others). Be careful, as there is often graphic and offensive language on these sites. Note that some students post pictures of themselves as well – if there is any nudity, this can be construed as child pornography.

In closing, I will add a personal story where this did affect me and a student. I had a former student who decided to create a site on Xanga with my name as a pseudonym (that is, he pretended to be me for fun). This was mostly harmless, and not directly offensive to me – it was actually somewhat comical. In any case, a student from another school (who had been kicked out of my summer school class and knowing that it wasn’t me running the site) posted a very offensive message – a death threat. Obviously, this was found and turned over to the police. Knowing the student, I was fairly convinced that I was in no danger, but in our post-Columbine era, that didn’t matter much to the police. Thus, thinking he was anonymously posting something to a site where he thought no one would see it, this student now has this activity on police record.

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