I am developing an Internet safety course for a local school division and spent some time yesterday poking around the various sites that offer safety content. On one site, Web Wise Kids, they ask teens if they know what a friend is and then they write, "Friends are people we know in real life, not people we know only online. You don’t tell personal things to just anyone at school or on the street. Don’t tell personal things to just anyone online either."

I'm interested in what this group thinks about that statement. I guess I understand their point, but it makes it seem like being online is not part of my real life, which it most certainly is. (Even SL is part of my RL.) And, while I have met some of you ftf, there are others who I may never meet that way. So, we can never be friends?

And, while the advice to not spill your guts to just anyone is certainly important, I can have discussions about lots of things--music, books, gardening--with people both offline and online without revealing my secret thoughts. Finally, I remembered that when I was in middle school, I had a pen pal from Korea. We exchanged letters for many years until he entered the military. I considered him my friend even though I never met him in "real life." According to this statement, he wasn't my friend.


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Yeah, I don't like that, they aren't a friend if you don't meet them stuff. As a parent, I would just want to know my kids online friends if he is exchanging pertinent data (address, phone). Since this hasn't come up yet, we'll see how that changes.

I've had a lot of online relationships, some with people I eventually meet in real life, some with folks I never get around to meeting. One group I was in was a due date mailing list. Given the reason for our list, the conversations were pretty personal (example: episiotomies--and I'll leave it at that). Today, I try to check folks out in at least a cursory way (background on their Ning page, about page on their blog). I've gotten a couple of friends requests from folks who seem to be in it for marketing, and declined those.

I've discovered that some of my fifth grade students go on My Space and Gaia. I asked them what precautions they were taking. Most didn't have friends they didn't know in real life, and all said they didn't share emails. Some of them had parents who were also Friends, so they could see what was going on.
Another problem is the use of the word "friend", since that now has a new meaning on social networking sites. We forget how concrete kids are.

Why are they defining friends anyway? Isn't the issue safety?

One problem with canned curriculum for web safety is that the word choice tends to be so bland and generic that it's nearly impossible to tell what they really mean. We don't do kids a service if we can't articulate specifics about what they should be on the lookout for.

I really think it takes face to face conversations and you have to be very aware that what you say is age appropriate, yet as specific as possible.
Hi all,
I think first we should say contact. After some time each of us should decide together becoming friends. Thus, in my opinion there should be two categories on Ning: contacts and friends.



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