The Tree House

September 8, 2007

Bebo. Their space or yours?

Filed under: bebo @ 1:37 pm and

For those who subscribe to the tree house, sorry its been so long.Im back with some thoughts on how young people see bebo and other social networking sites.  I have been reflecting on various aspects of this for the last year or so, and for those who have followed my bebo ramblings I hope you find these thoughts worth a read!As the first member of my school community to have a bebo page, I have been able to watch its growth in my local community, and in particular within the student population.  In particular it has been interesting to see the response of students to my presence (in the capacity of the schools ICT coordinator) on what some of them see as their space.  I first created my bebo account to learn about networking sites, but very quickly it became a tool to help my students stay safe online.  This remains the primary focus even now.  It has however also had other benefits.  Since all the students in my school know I have a bebo page, some (or their parents) come to me when they or a friend feels threatened by something that is happening online.  Some students however have used my bebo page as a discussion board!  I should perhaps point out that I have kept my commenting on my own page to a minimum, as a number of the pupil comments were in relation to specific pupils or issues at the school.  A minority used it to question my motives for being on bebo, or question my character.  The hardest part of this was not being able to respond so these – I had taken a decisions that I would not delete any of the comments from students at my school.  This approach did however pay off, as soon there were students posting in my defence, and backing up my stance on online safety.“hay mr G u cant b more right about da whole ‘hide ur identiti’ thing a mean sombody has 2 make sure we dont giv away our identities without nowing it and I gess thats why
ur on Bebo? bt dat dosny mater c ya
Its worth pressing through the grief that we get from the minority.  Ultimately, I know I have changed the habits of many of the young people around here who use Bebo or similar sites.  A quick scan for surnames and locations shows that the majority have taken on board the message.  However, the new S1 have just about all got bebo accounts, despite being under 13.  Their homework for this week (if they had a bebo page) was to go home, get together with a friend, and check each others pages for clues that compromised their safety.  One lad came to me afterwards and said,”but what if my parents dont believe me that my homework is to go onto bebo!” My final thought on this for the moment, is that if I could go back and do all this again, there is one thing I would change.  I would have set up the account in the name of the school.  This would have made it clear that my presence on bebo was related to my work.  I think that every school should create a bebo account, and use it to remind students that 

  • most of bebo is very very public.
  • giving clues to your identity is easy and dangerous
  • its not their space…. its for everyone regardless of their age (over 13) or profession! 

TheirSpace? MySpace? OurSpace!


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