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Old 04-29-2010, 12:36 PM   #1
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NJ Principal Asks Parents To Ban Social Networking

RIDGEWOOD, NJ (CBS) - A controversial proposal has students horrified at a Bergen County middle school on Wednesday. The principal is asking parents to join a voluntary ban on social networking.

Eighth grader Ali Feinberg told CBS 2 she uses her iPhone to check her Facebook account "a lot" and some of her friends said the same. Now all have to talk to their parents about getting off the popular social network. It won't be easy.

"I am very addicted to Facebook," Feinberg's classmate Elizabeth Dolan told CBS 2.

Anthony Orsini, the principal at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, sent out an e-mail Wednesday morning asking parents to help him get all of his students off social networks and keep careful track of their text messages.

"Please do the following: sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site. Today!

"Let them know that you will at some point every week be checking their text messages online! You have the ability to do this through your cell phone provider.

"Let them know that you will be installing Parental Control Software so you can tell every place they have visited online, and everything they have instant messaged or written to a friend. Don't install it behind their back, but install it!"

Although Orsini's e-mail is just a request, not an order, it's language is blunt:

"It is time for every single member of the BF Community to take a stand! There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!

"Let me repeat that - there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! None."

He said the sites have become a tool for children to do psychological harm to each other, often anonymously – a trend known as "cyber-bullying."

"Rumors used to be some mean girl says something in the hall, but now it's out there for the whole world to look at," he told CBS 2.

Middle schools have always had drama and emotion, but the social networks amplify them to such an extent that guidance counselors there said it's become a menace to their students.

Meredith Wearly, the school's guidance counselor, said about 75 percent of her day is spent dealing with social networking issues with students.

Since the e-mail has gone out, the principal said the reaction has been generally positive. But the truth will come when individual negotiations take place between parent and child to get them off Facebook.

Feinberg said she plans to argue the issue with her parents. "I'm not going to do anything bad, so why should I get rid of it?" she said.

There are 700 students at Benjamin Franklin Middle. Parents of more than 20 have already responded to the e-mail, and Orsini said he's heard no adult opposition to the idea.

Below is a copy of Orsini's entire e-mail:

Dear BF Community,

In 2002 when I arrived in Ridgewood Facebook did not exist, Youtube did not exist, and MySpace was barely in existence. Formspring (one of the newest internet scourges, a site meant simply to post cruel things about people anonymously) wasn't even in someone's mind.

In 2010 social networking sites have now become commonplace, and technology use by students is beyond prevalent.

It is time for every single member of the BF Community to take a stand!

There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!

Let me repeat that - there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! None.

5 of the last 8 parents who we have informed that their child was posting inappropriate things on Facebook said their child did not have an account. Every single one of the students had an account.

3 Students yesterday told a guidance counselor that their parents told them to close their accounts when the parents learned they had an account. All three students told their parents it was closed. All three students still had an account after telling their parents it was closed.

Most students are part of more than one social networking site.

Please do the following: sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site. Today!

Let them know that you will at some point every week be checking their text messages online! You have the ability to do this through your cell phone provider.

Let them know that you will be installing Parental Control Software so you can tell every place they have visited online, and everything they have instant messaged or written to a friend. Don't install it behind their back, but install it!

Over 90% of all homework does not require the internet, or even a computer. Do not allow them to have a computer in their room, there is no need.

Know that they can text others even if their phone doesn't have texting capability, either through the computer or through their Ipod touch.

Have a central "docking station" preferably in your bedroom, where all electronics in the home get charged each night, especially anything with a cell or wifi capability (Remember when you were in high school and you would sneak the phone into your bedroom at midnight to talk to you girlfriend or boyfriend all night - now imagine what they can do with the technology in their rooms).

If your son or daughter is attacked through one of these sites or through texting - immediately go to the police! Insist that they investigate every situation. Also, contact the site and report the attack to the site - they have an obligation to suspend accounts or they are liable for what is written.

We as a school can offer guidance and try to build up any student who has been injured by the social networking scourge, but please insist the authorities get involved.

For online gaming, do not allow them to have the interactive communication devices. If they want to play Call of Duty online with someone from Seattle, fine, they don't need to talk to the person.

The threat to your son or daughter from online adult predators is insignificant compared to the damage that children at this age constantly and repeatedly do to one another through social networking sites or through text and picture messaging.

It is not hyperbole for me to write that the pain caused by social networking sites is beyond significant - it is psychologically detrimental and we will find out it will have significant long term effects, as well as all the horrible social effects it already creates.

I will be more than happy to take the blame off you as a parent if it is too difficult to have the students close their accounts, but it is time they all get closed and the texts always get checked.

I want to be clear, this email is not anti-technology, and we will continue to teach responsible technology practices to students. They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause, and I don't want any of our students to go through the unnecessary pain that too many of them have already experienced.

Some people advocate that the parents and the school should teach responsible social networking to students because these sites are part of the world in which we live.

I disagree, it is not worth the risk to your child to allow them the independence at this age to manage these sites on their own, not because they are not good kids or responsible, but because you cannot control the poor actions of anonymous others.

Learn as a family about cybersafety together at wiredsafety.org for your own knowledge. It is a great site. But then do everything I asked in this email - because there really is no reason a child needs to have one of these accounts.

Please take action in your on home today.

Sincerely,
Anthony Orsini
Principal, BFMS
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:42 PM   #2
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What an idiot...

I understand banning facebook and other sites at school, but don't tell people how to be parents.
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:52 PM   #3
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It's not the worst idea I've ever heard. He's sending out a suggestion, not demanding people do it. The parents will decide whether or not they will follow his suggestion or not.

... or at least try to follow the suggestion.

I'm sure the kids will be thrilled with the mere suggestion they delete their Facebook pages and whatnot.
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:05 PM   #4
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Well of course he has no power to demand it, but I think he could have gone a little different route in his suggestion. I think telling parents that their child shouldn't have a computer in their room, that there is "absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of", and pretty much making parents sound like they are clueless about their child goes a little far.

I know plenty of parents that carefully control their child's facebook accounts at this age in order for them to keep in contact with their family in other parts of the country or their friends. They only use it when the parent is watching, and only the parent knows the account info.
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:14 PM   #5
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I know plenty of parents that carefully control their child's facebook accounts at this age in order for them to keep in contact with their family in other parts of the country or their friends. They only use it when the parent is watching, and only the parent knows the account info.
So it's not really the child's account (even if it has the kid's name on it), it's the parents' account and the child is using it. I don't see where what he's asking is a whole lot different than what the parents you know are already doing.


And I don't think kids this age need to be on social networking sites to talk with their everyday friends. If they have to gossip about their "friends" and classmates, make them do it in person or on the phone like we had to!
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:35 PM   #6
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the guy had me going up until half way thru his letter when he started talking about taking computers away and all that stuff, at which point i realized he was a complete wack-a-doodle on an anti-technology rant of epic proportions.

the ironic thing is that the video game that he says it's ok for them to play as long as they don't have a headset hooked up?



Rated M for Mature!
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:51 PM   #7
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His only concern should be students using phones during classtime. That's it. For everything else, they should tell him to fuck off and worry about his school.
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:53 PM   #8
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i suppose it's a better approach than using school issued laptops to take webcam pictures of sleeping teenagers...
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:54 PM   #9
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1. His email was too long.
2. When I was a kid, they didn't want us to watch TV for nonsense reasons. Same shit, different medium; the kids will be fine. Stupid maybe, but fine.
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:59 PM   #10
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i think i've seen this in a movie once...

YouTube - Footloose end dance scene!
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Old 04-29-2010, 02:00 PM   #11
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I would agree that suggesting they take computers away completely is ridiculous. If anything, if it gets parents to take a more active role, or to realize the kinds of things that go on via social media (especially the bullying/harassment that can happen), then it's a good thing.
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Old 04-29-2010, 02:00 PM   #12
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1. His email was too long.
2. When I was a kid, they didn't want us to watch TV for nonsense reasons. Same shit, different medium; the kids will be fine. Stupid maybe, but fine.
if you sit too close you'll go blind.

which is of course what also will happen if you masterbate too much.

it's a miracle that the 25 to 40 year old male population of america isn't over-run with a bunch of blind, hairy palmed degenerates.
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Old 04-29-2010, 03:02 PM   #13
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Not a bad idea to ban social networking during class time. I'm surprised the school doesn't already have such a policy in place.

Also not a bad idea to ask parents to step in and regulate their kids' activity online to keep harassment down, given some of the things that have happened.

Anything else is outside the school's purview.

PS. Doesn't Facebook have an age policy?
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Old 04-29-2010, 04:49 PM   #14
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Not a bad idea to ban social networking during class time. I'm surprised the school doesn't already have such a policy in place.
I didn't read it closely but that was my first reaction as well. Until college we were not allowed to be using cell phones, pagers, PDAs, smart phones or anything like that during school hours on school grounds. I believe the computer labs also filtered the popular sites which have no real value as far as academic research.

I don't see the purpose in banning social networking outside of school though. Kids just need to learn how to be responsible with it. I guess if that's too complicated for parents to teach then they can go ahead and ban their child but I don't see how that solves anything in the long run. I had unrestricted computer hours and access but I was an A student and was responsible about telling my parents where I was going and who I was with. Computer access probably would have been different if I was a wild kid. As for all the gadgets, my parents could not have cared less because they didn't buy those things for us. If we wanted that stuff, we worked and bought it.
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Old 04-29-2010, 04:50 PM   #15
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Why do eighth graders have iPhones?

Aside from their $200 cost or whatever, the parents are paying some $80/month so these 13-year-olds can have Facebook readily available? Ridiculous.
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