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College Prep Social Media? | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

College Prep Social Media?

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Facebook is too dangerous for college prep teens,” a student in my Facebook class told me. “We won’t let our 16 year old touch it because he might risk scholarship chances.”

Interesting proposition. I had 2 primary responses:

  1. Learning to navigate social media is like learning to drive. Parents work with their teens to teach them the rules of the road. With both, these are skills you don’t leave home knowing. It’s easier to teach your teen to use social media responsibly, under your own roof when they are younger, than to trust it happens later.
  2. I increasingly know employers who view those with NO social media presence as odd ducks and ill-equipped to interact with the modern work force. Long term, no social media presence = fewer career opportunities.

“We hired a college coach who tells his clients: NO SOCIAL MEDIA FOR COLLEGE PREP TEENS. It’s just too dangerous if they post the wrong thing,” she replied.

Frankly, I was astounded to still have this conversation in 2011. As the parent of 15 and 16 year olds, I disagree. My husband and I were their first friends on Facebook, and a friend who’s a prosecutor was their third. We monitor them and teach them to use it constructively.

But this isn’t about my opinion. What do YOU think? So I’m asking YOU, my readers. Is social media too dangerous a risk for college prep teens? Please comment below.

5 Responses to “College Prep Social Media?”

  1. Liz Vos May 19, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    Wow. I love the analogy to driving! We have been friends with our kids on FaceBook since they have been on. It was the only reason I signed up for Facebook in the first place. My view has always been “be on the playground where your kids are playing” and that includes social media.

    If you think social media is too risky for college prep teens then probably college is too risky for your teen. It is much better to monitor and work with them now instead of having them be sneaky about it or very vulnerable when they “go away” to school.

  2. Steve Radick May 19, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    Ya know what? Crossing the street has gotten really dangerous too and college prep teens have so much to lose – let’s stop that too. And, you never know what they might do when they’re out without parental supervision, so better make sure you install that GPS tracker on their clothes. Don’t worry about driving either – that’s much too dangerous. Give them a bike and tell them you’re just looking out for their future.

    Come on now – let’s be serious. Social media too “dangerous?” Of course it is…to the ignorant and misinformed, just like any activity. This stuff isn’t going away – as you said, the best thing to do is to educate about how to do it constructively, avoid the dangers, mitigate the risks, and know what to do if something bad does happen.

    I’m guessing this “coach” also doesn’t use social media? It’s probably scary and dangerous to him/her and/or they’ve had a bad experience using it, so therefore, everyone should avoid it, right?

    Telling teens that social media is too dangerous to use is irresponsible, misguided, and yes, dangerous.

  3. Yong C. Lee May 19, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    I don’t think I can add anything more than what you argued in your post or what the previous commenters have replied. Better to educate/teach “better” use than to shield completely (which just raises more questions).

    On a related note, there’s been lots of conversation recently around Facebook’s minimum age policy. Here are a couple of useful comments on the subject. Both reactions argue for parental guidance over complete avoidance:

    Scroll down to the email from Wayne:

    Scroll down to the voicemail:

  4. Alex Priest May 19, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    Wow, that’s pretty insane. Like Yong said, I’m not sure I can add much beyond what you and the other commenters have already added, but I couldn’t disagree more with the idea of “no social media.”

    Social media is–without a doubt–the single most important thing that got me to where I am today. It completely shaped both my personal and professional relationships throughout my college career, and I learned more through connections I made online (then of course, met offline) than almost anywhere else.

    I feel like there’s a misguided concern that young people who use social media will grow up to be socially inept, and lacking in those essential social skills that, supposedly, every generation before us has had. To me that’s just nonsense. You have social people and you have antisocial people–in every generation–regardless of the technology surrounding their lives. What makes someone a social being, effective communicator, and well-developed young professional is a product of MUCH more than just the technology we use.

    In fact, I’d even argue that by keeping students from social media, you’re hindering their social development. As a culture we are moving closer and closer to a world where connections are formed easily, rapidly, and frequently. But to truly leverage and build those relationships, you have to understand how the social technology around those relationships works, AND how to take those relationships offline and develop them into the “strong ties” that so many researchers claim we lack. If young people are kept off social networks, not only will they fall behind because they WON’T be making those connections, but they’ll also miss out on opportunities to extend their IRL network beyond that of their closest friends. This not only hinders their social development, but also their exposure to new ideas, opinions, beliefs, and their general understanding of the world.

    … And that was way more than I thought I would write.

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