I did a presentation this morning to 9th grade parents this morning about the “Advice in Motion” newsletter (see below), but I bracketed the recommendations with two sets of information. First, we recently completed an online survey of upper school students about computer use. We had 153 responses (just over half of the student body). From this survey, we learned that
89% of our US students have more than one email address
78% have one or more IM accounts
48% have an online profile page (Myspace.com, Facebook.com, Yahoo or others)
Of those with online profile pages, 48% check them daily or 2-3 times a week
25% bring a laptop to school daily
51% bring a laptop to school at least occasionally (as for finals)
65% have a laptop at home they could bring to school
Communication was by far the most popular use of computers.
“Second Place” for favorite use was tied between Researching and Music/Video
Games had the highest negative score in terms of favored uses.
Best experiences: staying in contact with friends, IM, making movies, music and email
Worst experiences: losing papers, failed hard drives, things not working, printing
I used this information to support the “advice in motion” concept—the idea that all these things are happening to one extent or another, and we’re not discussing issues that relate to only a minority of students.
Secondly, I discussed Facebook.com, which is reported to have 9 million college students registered (up to 85% of students at some institutions). I noted that even 1 percent of 9 million is 90,000 users, meaning that if even 1 percent of the users “misuse” the system (inappropriate information, pictures, clubs, etc.), that would be 90,000 users displaying “bad examples” even if 99 percent of users had positive, useful sites. I also noted that parents with students who went to college last year reported that their kids had “immediate access” to information about their dorm mates, class mates, etc. For some college students, Facebook.com is become “everything”—address book, calendar, photo album, messaging system, etc.
I found it useful to bracket our recommendations for online safety and involvement with students to show that this is a “street smarts” issue. As one parent noted this morning, “This is like our parents who worried about us going to the mall. There are bad people at the mall as well, but we prepare our kids to deal with the risks.” Not a bad comment.