Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why kids do what they do on MySpace, part 2

I just had an interesting discussion with a colleague, who had a recent experience with a youth posting materials on MySpace. One of his postings indicated (more or less bragged) that, among other things, he had lied to my colleague, who was in a position of authority over the youth. He had denied lying previously, but now was confronted with a hard copy of his own testimonial.

So I inquired, thinking back to earlier comments in this blog, if he had asked the kid why he posted such stuff. The response was that he didn't think anyone else would read it - that it would somehow remain personal between himself and the friend he was posting it for. Hadn't really put it together that "world" is the first "w" in worldwideweb. And again, this kid was a leader, an exemplar in many ways.

This seems to go back to the acute need for network literacy - that kids need to develop an awareness of just how far their comments get distributed in this medium, who can read them, and what they can do with the information.
It also reaffirms the need for positive models in this venue - for every negative use, be it bullying, flaming, bragging, and so on, there need to be demonstrations of positive interactions and the value that such interactions have on community building.

ADDED July 13, 2006:
I was digging around and found an older article recalling more interesting tales of how college kids are unaware of exactly who's viewing their musings on the most popular social sites (or unable to censor themselves!). Well worth a read in the context of this posting - in particular take a look at the last section, entitled "A Little Sunshine can be a Dangerous Thing".

From the Chronicle of Higher Education Information Technology section, dated January 20, 2006:
Think Before You Share
Students' online socializing can have unintended consequences


When Pennsylvania State University's resurgent football team scored a victory last October against its archrival from Ohio State University, throngs of students rushed the field and set off something of a postgame riot. Overwhelmed, campus police had difficulty identifying the perpetrators and made only two arrests on game day.

But less than a week after the game, Tyrone Parham, the university's assistant director of police, got an unexpected tip: Several students had posted pictures online of their friends storming the field. Campus police officers logged onto Facebook, the immensely popular social-networking site, and found a student group titled, unsubtly enough, "I Rushed the Field After the OSU Game (And Lived!)"



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