Talk about opening a really large can of worms. I have a feeling that by the time I get up later today, this story is going to be running rampant through the Interwebs. There are going to be “experts” weighing in on both sides of the coin, without a doubt. Arguments will ensue in every comment thread around the blogosphere. Parents may stand up and clap while their teenagers lock themselves in the bedroom.
The principle at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, N.J. sent an email to parents yesterday, demanding that they ban their children from Facebook. He also goes on to tell them that they need to install parental controls on every computer in their homes, and read every message their children send out on their phones. The man doesn’t even bother to say please when he’s telling all of these people how they should raise their child. How rude can you get?
This is likely the most ludicrous story I’ve had the displeasure of reading in a very long time. Principal Anthony Orsini claims in his email that “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!” The man even goes so far as to claim that being a part of any online community is going to damage your child’s brain for life: “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.”
Dear Mr. Orsini: You, sir, need to bring yourself into this century. Stop acting like my great-grandparents did back in the days when grandma learned how to waltz. Knock off the frantic browbeating, and pay attention to what’s going on around you. You have absolutely no right to tell these parents how they should “control” their teens. Kids use social networking sites to – *gasp* – talk to each other! Yes… those same sites can be used to bully one another. Guess what? If it didn’t happen on Facebook and MySpace, it would happen in your very own locker rooms and on the playgrounds. If the kids aren’t texting each other after school, they’re going to pass notes in the classroom.
Of course parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing online. They need to sit down and discuss the limits. Mom and Dad should keep an eye on situations and involve themselves in what’s happening and being said. However, they should NOT read every word of everything that their son or daughter does. At some point, parents have to trust their own teachings, and begin to give their kid some space.
How are young people supposed to learn to handle themselves in life’s situations if they are not given the freedom to HAVE situations?