In a disturbing news at NDTV, schools in Bangalore have asked students to have their Facebook accounts deleted. As reported, there are prestigious schools among the list like Delhi Public School, St John High School and Vidya Niketan Public School. And this has been done following a ban on logging into social networks in campus some time back. While the concern raised has been the addiction to social networks affecting the students’ school work, there are many others who are worried about their online safety.
Leena Swamy, the Prinicpal of Royal Concorde International school also commented on the psychological impact of social networks on students. Apart from cyber bullying and harassment, she pointed out that many students have also been led into lower self esteem, ”because they see some pictures, or some peer going on a holiday and they are not.”
Recently, a 13-year old student from Vidya Niketan, Bangalore had complained of being bullied on social media, which led to the school asking parents of their students in class 1 to 10 to ensure their social networking accounts were deactivated.
Fortunately, not all schools are in favour of a complete deletion of social networking profiles. The Principal of St. John’s School, Princess Franklyn invited specialists to come over for a talk informing students about the dangers of posting details about themselves, school staff and classmates. She has reported a drastic decrease in such incidents after the talk.
Education is the key. Imparting training on the safe use of social networks is the only way out, as students will always find a way to get in. Ann Joseph, a Std 12 student dismissed the deletion of Facebook accounts as a very dumb idea. “For us students, if you tell us not to do something, it makes us want to do something more,” she said.
The need of the hour is to design online safety education programmes in schools, and the first steps have already been taken by Facebook. This July, the social networking giant announced its collaboration with Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) to bring Internet Safety Education programs for students between the age group of 13 to 17. The education programs will train children, teachers and parents on how to reap maximum benefits from internet while not compromising on their safety and security.
As part of this partnership, Facebook safety specialists will work with IAMAI trainers on safety content and participate in the training programs called ‘Safe Surfing’ that IAMAI has been conducting since the past four years. The long term program also plans to target NGOs working on child safety.
In another interesting development in September, Facebook published a guide to help educators and the community better support teens accessing the social network, towards building a responsible social network for its more than a billion users across the globe. The 16-page PDF document ‘Facebook for Educators and Community leaders‘ created with the help of experts in safety, covers various aspects of understanding teens and their attitude towards social media, Facebook’s Community Standards with guidelines that govern how the billion users of the network interact with each other in a safe manner, reporting abuse, preventing bullying, controlling your privacy, online security, safe mobile usage and right app settings.
Hopefully, schools in the country and elsewhere implement this as part of learning in schools, as there is no keeping away from social networks and apps in the digital world.
Image courtesy: blog.hicubes.com