Back to School, Forced Facebooking

Disney's High School Musical

Disney’s High School Musical

It’s a difficult time of year for me, as a parent of teens.   Some of my children have horrible study habits that I battle all the time.  I fight with the kids, but I’m also fighting with the school sponsored “norm.”   The high school principal and the teachers advise us, as parents, to make sure the teens get sufficient sleep by limiting use of electronic devices, especially at night.  Then the teachers  post all assignments online.  Well, that’s convenient, I get that.   They also create assignments that require Internet access, which again, is convenient — gone are the days of having to go to the library.   It also makes it impossible to turn off WiFi to get one kid to read or go to sleep (or as punishment) if another kid is  doing homework online.   It also directs — actually, trains kids to go online before they  start anything.

And guess what’s on the computer?

Hint:  It starts with an “F”  — Facebook.

Facebook

One might argue,  kids don’t have to be on or open Facebook, right?

Wrong.

Schools allow and even encourage student groups, clubs,  and teams to communicate via Facebook, and only Facebook.  Well, again, that’s convenient, right?    Students can create a group and post events, pictures and let everybody know what’s going on.   In other words, there’s no need to set up a pesky website or use the school website or go through the arduous task of sending an email.  Why do that when . . .

“We’ll just post it on Facebook!”

Consequently,  when a sports team has a pasta dinner, the time, location and menu are posted on Facebook, and Facebook only.   And it’s not just Facebook, folks.   One coach said that he is tired of collecting emails of players because the kids change their email addresses so often.  Consequently, he’s taken to using Twitter to advise players of information.  He uses Twitter to advise under-aged girls of  school team information.  Twitter — the land of  body cavity talk among strangers.

So, basically, a student has to have both a Facebook and a Twitter account or risk not being informed of an event.

The school does a lovely job of talking about bullying and cyber-bullying.   But they are doing a lousy job of teaching children that they can, in fact, opt out of online social networking, especially during the school year.   Instead, they encourage it by allowing student leaders and coaches and teachers to use pre-existing public social networking sites as their only form of communication.   They assume that the kids are already on these sites, even when some are not, and have only just reached the legal age to join.

Then the children walk into school and are told they have to be on Facebook to know what’s going on — or they will miss it!   Then suddenly I’m the bad guy by saying that no, you don’t have to have a personal Facebook page in order to play Volleyball for your school.

But I’m not the bad guy, I’m just wrong.  Students must create a Facebook page to see their team’s posts.   How many teens can create a Facebook page and not get sucked into the whole Facebook experience?   How  many kids will create a Twitter account and only follow their coach?    

C’mon school  –you’re making my kid drink the Kool-Aid when what she really needs is a good night’s sleep without any reference to anyone’s  “relationship status.”

It’s like having an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at a bar, except, unlike at AA, High School students use last names and post pictures of — everything.

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