Ever since Anthony Orsini, the principal of the Ridgewood, NJ middle school, wrote an impassioned letter to his students’ parents imploring them to unplug Facebook, there has been a healthy debate whether social network sites are appropriate for middle school students.
Here are some facts that can help us with this national discussion. Facebook asserts that their site does not allow students under the age 13 to even join the network. Of course, Facebook is depending on the user to self-police oneself. Shockingly, that’s not working out so well.
In any case, if your tween wants to explore a social network site, and you want him or her to demonstrate appropriate netiquette, check out the Common Sense Media’s guide to social network sites:
“Believe it or not, Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only cool social networking sites on the Web. If your kids are too young for Facebook, or you’re concerned about privacy, consider looking into some lesser-known social networking sites geared for tweens, preteens, and yes, even teenagers. We’ve rounded-up some of the top social networking sites that allow kids to keep a tighter rein on their privacy. Our choices include sites that limit the ways you connect with friends, offer greater control over how you interact, or home in on specific interests. Some of the sites for kids on the younger end of the scale offer more parental controls, too, so you can have a better sense of what your kid is doing online. Before registering for any of these sites, be sure to read our Social Networking Tips and share them with your kid, so the whole family is on the same page about safe and responsible social networking behavior. The sites on this list are geared for kids 8-15. For younger kids looking to interact on the Web, check out our list of Virtual World Games.”