Letter: The Facebook Generation

To the Editor:

The case of the Claremont teacher who resigned rather than “unfriend” students on Facebook and your editorial April 8 (“Teachers and Facebook”) show a generational gap in how the world is seen. Using Facebook to facilitate a secret relationship is akin to secretly meeting your lover at Coburn Park during the Farmers Market.

In fact, one of the most important challenges in teaching technology to young people — and, as this case shows, to their elders — is making them understand that absolutely nothing you do online is private. And of all the popular ways to meet online, Facebook is the least discreet. Privacy on Facebook requires taking very specific steps, any of which can be easily thwarted by someone who wants to poke deeper or simply by a blunder on the part of one party to the conversation.

Schools need sensible rules about social media, but it is illogical to tell kids not to “sext” each other and never to post photos they wouldn’t want seen by potential employers or college admissions people while simultaneously telling teachers that Facebook is too deep, dark and impenetrable for them to safely use it with their students.

It is also absurd to tell teachers they cannot talk to kids in that hugely open forum, and that they must confine their out-of-classroom contact to away games, field trips and after-school tutoring sessions, any one of which a predator would find much easier to exploit, as has been proven far too often.

Mike Peterson