Facebook Advice

A friend recently asked me advice around his daughter’s first foray into using Facebook.

He was unsure of whether it was good idea but his daughter was keen. My response follows. What else would you add?

  • My first question for him was, “How old is she? If she is under 13 then the conversation stops as it is against the law for under 13s to be on Facebook. We know there are heaps who do condone their children using Facebook when they are underage but parents can take the moral high ground on that one!!!
  • In saying that I would let her know that it is OK not to fill out every part of your profile. It’s OK not to make the year of your birth public. So often people ask for your birthday as a form of identification. I lie about my age on Facebook!
  • I would start with small steps- the parent joins Facebook and so does the daughter- and be each other’s friends- learn together.
  • Tell her that she can only have friends she actually knows- relatives, school friends etc.
  • Share with her that if she turns friends down they don’t know- she just doesn’t turn up in their timeline. You don’t have to feel shy about ignoring people who you don’t want to share your life with.
  • Show her that you can block people if they are mean so they can’t contact you again. You can report people as well but Facebook is not in the habit of caring too much about what individuals post!!!!!
  • Talk to her about the sorts of things that she puts out there for others to see- her digital footprint.
  • Help her understand that things that she puts on Facebook other people can copy and keep forever- would she want her grandmother (or father) to see that? Or would she be happy with that being shown to someone on her 21st birthday!
  • Talk about privacy- do you want everyone to know where you live, how to contact you, phone numbers etc. Be wary of what you share even if it is not ‘bad’ err on the side of being private…. things like not saying you are going on holiday for a week and would someone like to come and water the pot plants cos the house would be empty!!! Save that till you come home and tell everyone what a marvellous time you had then!!
  • In the way of settings- lock it down so that only friends can see what you posted and make a bit of a habit- once a month or so, of re-checking that privacy setting as Facebook have a habit of changing things.
  • Be careful with what you ‘like’ – the things that you ‘like’ show up for your friends to see and if you ‘like’ a business they will turn up like adverts in your time line.
  • Let her know that if she shares something bad that happens on Facebook with you then you won’t stop her from using Facebook altogether cos of one bad thing- if you do that she won’t tell you next time. Talk about what she can do- unfriend the uncomfortable person- maybe go as far as confronting the troubling person.
  • Practice being strong and safe with your password- don’t share it around and make sure you log out at the end of a session.

My three pillars of digital citizenship-

  •  Look after yourself
  •  Look after others
  •  Look after property

If she knows those three things in non digital life she will do OK on Facebook as well. You have thirteen years of good parenting under your belt. Don’t stop now.

I would take a good read of the common sense advice from Common Sense Media here. And this Facebook video is a bit of fun,



Here are my Facebook bookmarks for a bit more in depth reading.

What other advice would you offer the father?


Facebook Furore!

I came across this article on the Stuff website about children’s use of Facebook at a Wellington Primary School which had got itself in a bit of strife when trying to sort out issues around children’s use of Facebook.

Take a read!


I wonder if the paper is reporting the issue as it actually unfolded?

I see many underage children on Facebook. Most, I believe, are there with their parent’s knowlege and permission, over-riding Facebook’s own rules.

I wonder why the school, the parents or whoever, didn’t just go looking for themselves for what children are doing on Facebook, rather than having children expose their accounts?

In one place the article says that children should never surrender their passwords and indeed they shouldn’t but nowhere in the article did it actually say that the children ever did share their passwords, they just shared their timeline view.

And this from a concerned parent…

The woman, who did not want to be named because it could identify her daughter, was “computer illiterate” and had no computer of her own to monitor her daughter’s online activity.

She thought someone should be policing online age restrictions, but not schools. “I agree children shouldn’t be on Facebook under the age of 13, but it’s not the school’s place to be sorting this out.

“After school and weekends are a family’s time, not school’s time.”

She had consulted a lawyer about whether schools had powers to police pupils’ personal social media sites and she knew of other parents doing the same.

She doesn’t have a computer, is happily digitally illiterate and doesn’t think the school should be involved but has been to the police to find out if the school is legally allowed to be concerned. ‘Someone’ should check!!!!!!! Who does she think that ‘someone’ might be! I would say she is the parent she should act like one and know where her kids are and back the school for trying to do something about it.

Newspaper article of Facebook issue

Newspaper article of Facebook issue

What is a school to do when they know their children are behaving badly, parents are ignorate of the problem and will happily consult lawyers to see if the school is even allowed to intervene in on line activity that happens ‘in family time’.

The whole article makes me sad.

What would you do in the same situation?


Cyber-Safety Resource

One of the goals for our cluster is to promote home school partnerships. As part of that we ran a evening parent information evening on Cyber-Safety.

Through my RSS feed I came across the ten most concerning things about cyber-safety for parents. We thought we might attempt to address all of them through our presentation. We looked at…

As a resource for parents Charles Newton and I prepared this Google site to support the people as we discussed the issues around cyber-safety. I had never really gone all out to write a Google site and was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to get some thing that looked half decent.

Here it is for you to use as you see fit.


Screen shot 2011-06-25 at 7.05.18 PM

Photo Competition Plagiarism

SunsetThe cluster is sponsoring a photo competition. It is all very exciting and we have had a two well attended after school resource sharing workshops on photography, time given to it at the Lead Teacher Day and Principals’ Morning so we are all set to go.

So we are starting to get a few entries. Last week I got emailed a stunning photo from one of my Year Four girls so she could enter the competition. I was suspicious that she hadn’t actually taken the photo because I didn’t recognise the skyline as being local.  Firstly I asked her where she took the photo and didn’t get a reply. I was even more suspicious.Screen shot 2011-03-27 at 11.57.06 AM

Fortunately Warren and Charles were about with a little advice on where to go to check out whether a photo has been used elsewhere on the net.

http://www.tineye.com/ was the site that was recommended. I uploaded the photo and was pleased (dismayed) to find that the photo was indeed borrowed.

I’m OK with children enhancing their photos with any tools they have on hand- iPhoto, Photoshop etc but just want the taking and enhancing be done by the child. In fact enhancing photos to improve them is to be encouraged.

Using the Tineye site won’t help with children entering photos taken by others in the family but will definitely help with photos taken from the internet.

This will be the basis of an interesting discussion in class on my next teaching day.

Greg Gebhart talk about Cyber-Safety

Here area my notes from Greg Gebhart’s presentation at the Teacher Only Day at Marlborough Girl’s College. Greg Gebhart is a former teacher who now works as a consultant from Australia on the use and implementation of new and emerging technologies. Greg’s specialist areas include the use of Web 2.0 technologies and internet safety for children. ( My thoughts are in italics ).

A profile is being built of how children use the net- for homework, for Google and for games. Primary children generally have at least three email account-  school, home that you get with your internet account, two hotmails which has MSM as well, one as a website email log in, and another to send spam to, personal, private emails, google gmail, yahoo email for chat and (for me Flickr).

It takes time from the send and receive, texts are instant so that is why they are preferred by kids. With email you have compose and wait for a reply- texting is so much more now.

Our task it ensure children understand that when people have a thousand friends on Facebook not everyone is good just because people have a happy photo in their profile. Moshi Monsters which is very popular with the littlies encourages five year olds to go collecting friends- discuss at that age that you need to know who your friends are. Moshi Monsters is a safe game but can teach bad habits about friend collecting for later on.

On line team gaming- RuneScape for younger kids and WOW for the older. Team games last about three hours and there is no pause or save- that’s why kids don’t want to stop ‘cos they let their friends down or leave the game early which leads to other players being mean to the member who has had to leave early to go eat. (Hadn’t thought about that aspect before). Some kids get up early and play at 3am NZ time cos that’s when Europe gamers get up- they go back to sleep and pretend to have slept through the night!

Texting at all hours- interrupted sleep- one kid wakes and texts another, leads to another and leads to MSM as its easier to chat in on line chat than to text repeatedly. It might be an idea to make a rule of keeping the cell phone out of the bedroom but then some kids carry two cell phones- one as a dummy to hand over if called to task, the other is the ‘real one’.

What parents can do to ensure their children are safer on the internet. If the computer has to be in the bedroom tell children they have to have it facing the door and keep the door open. This doesn’t stop risky behaviour but stops high end risky behaviour.

Facebook Terms Of Service says you have to be 13 years old but many younger children have accounts, sometimes set up by older siblings. If parents say no to kids joining up to things like Facebook they are likely to go out and do it anyway so parents may be better to say yes and keep an eye on things in the open.

Mobile phones -younger are getting cellphones as hand-me-downs from older siblings and parents as they trade up. (Still can’t get my iPhone4 here in Nelson). 20% of secondary students own two mobile phones with two carriers- one to hand over to teachers or parents if they’re confiscated. They are selling phones now with two SIM card slots so they can cope with two carriers. (Ask kids in your class what it is that they do with the internet at home and what devices they use- would be interesting for my Appleby kids).

What some young people are doing that can be damaging.

  • Kids take their phones to parties- put up not so good images, someone else takes a photo and puts it on Facebook but not tag it so the victim doesn’t know there are compromising photos of them on the net. They get mean things said about them.
  • Sexting- taking inappropriate photos and sharing them- imagine what happens when friendships turn sour with incriminating photos on the injured party’s phone.
  • People’s email address when applying for a job can exclude them for being followed up eg sexybabe42@hotmail.com is unlikely to elicit a job interview.
  • Prospective employers are Google searching + Facebook finding to cull the ones with compromising digital footprint.
  • Formspring is a questions and answers website. The site allows its users to set up a profile page, from which anyone can ask them questions and also post comments. The questions and their given answers are then published on the user’s profile page. It can open the door for harassment and bullying, due to the anonymity of the entries.
  • Chatroulette is a website that pairs random strangers from around the world together for webcam-based conversations. Visitors to the website randomly begin an online chat (video, audio and text) with another visitor. You can imagine some of the inappropriate randoms that connect this way.
  • Moshi monsters for the very young is very popular but you have to feed your animal every day- it is addictive. (A bit like Twitter).
  • Call of Duty has an R18 rating but primary school children are playing it.
  • Facebook- people need to check their Facebook settings to..

Set your site to private
Remove flirty photos
Remove flirty nicknames
Remove surnames
Don’t friend randoms
Remove mobile numbers
Keep the people who can see all your stuff to friends- not friends of friends.

  • Cyber bullying- generally the people being bullied are being bullied in reality as well- bullies are known to them. 10% of kids are bullied- 90% aren’t- so we have a chance to be proactive and stop it rather than be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff before the percentage grows and it becomes the norm. The people being bullied don’t do anything because they think the school can’t stop people being unkind, or they are worried it might escalate, or worried that parents will take away their technology so rather be bullied than take their cellphones (friends) away.

I have a few cyber safety resources and videos to add via Delicious that I hope are worth sharing.


What do you think of the message in this video? I think I need to explore more about the things the children in my class do apart from use our blog and Google Docs!

Internet Use Agreements

John Sutton wrote an insightful post that turned up in my RSS feed from the UK this morning about internet use agreements.

At Appleby we wrote ours a few years ago now. We review it every year and ask children, parents and teachers to sign it each year agreeing to the policy and asking parents if they allow their child to access the internet at school and to ask their permission to publish their child’s images and creations on the web.Appleby from above

If you are interesting in reading our AUP you can download it here in pdf form.

Most parents agree to their children’s images and work being contributed to our blog sites etc but a few do not want their children to have direct access to the internet for whatever reason.

John raises an interesting point in his post. By not allowing children access to the internet we are restricting children’s learning opportunities. At school we access Google Docs to share digital portfolios, we are part of the e-AsTTle on-line assessment programme, we blog, I podcast and generally collaborate on line with other classes in other parts of the world. By not allowing children to participate we are limiting their ability to learn using 21st century technologies.

Maybe a way forward is to inform parents of our policies and educate children proactively about safe internet use and just get on with it. I hadn’t thought of it like that before. What do you think?

Encapsulated by Capzles

If you have good people in your network you learn good stuff. Last night I caught a tweet by Wes Fryer about a another great digital tool called Capzles. He was impressed and so am I as I quickly made a Capzle from a few photos and a class digital story movie. I added some feedback text and an audio mix of my commentary and some FreePlay music. The features of Capzles that I like are the intuitive interface, the quick ease of uploading content and the timeline effect. It harvests the data from your photos and knows when they were taken and puts them in a timeline. It has great quality in full screen mode as well.

It fits well inside Blogger. A bonus is that as it embeds you can chose to only have the audio play when you click on the little speaker icon. That’s great ‘cos I find it irritating to have audio play on a blog when it hasn’t been asked so the audio doesn’t come to you uninvited. The only downside I can see is that comments go live immediately. For school I would like to see some form of comment moderation or at least notification of new comments but I don’t think it would be a huge problem.

For next year I thought it would be fun to take a photo everyday- children could add a photo highlight a day and we could grow our portfolio over the year embedded in our blog.

Give it a whirl and create one of your own!

Involving Parents in the ICT happening at school

On Thursday I am chipping in my 5c into a conversation and ICT celebration at Mapua School. They have invited parents to come along to school and children are going to show them their blogs, Flickr & Delicious sites and other ICT projects they have been doing recently.


Then I am going to have a bit of a chat with them about how to help their children participate responsibly on the internet. To this end I have made a pdf resource that talks of how to make safe Google searches, cyber-safety using Hector’s World, awareness of your digital footprint and a ‘Think Before You Post’ video.

Apart from the content I am particularly pleased with the clever way I have been able to embed the video into the pdf using Adobe Acrobat Pro. Next year I would like to have a go at using this tool to create digital portfolios to add to children’s Google Apps page linked through our school website. How geeky is that!

On Line Sexual Predators- Myth and Fact

I came across this link in my blogroll that I thought might be worth sharing with parents who are concerned about the consequences of their children using the internet. Art Wolinsky, the Educational Director of Wired Safety presents via a web survey the facts and myths behind on line sexual predators. To view the presentation click on the graphic to be taken to the website.

Online Sexual Predators - Myth and Fact
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

I was interested also in the method of presentation- using Adobe Presenter. I haven’t got that piece of software. I will have to get the free trial.