A colleague came to me this morning asking if some of our students had tried friending me on Facebook; she had three requests last night.
Earlier this year, a few giggling kids approached me to ask about something I had posted on my Twitter account. They had found it while Googling the names of their teachers.
Even this blog has been discovered by inquisitive students who spotted its title in my list of favorites.
Is the concept of online anonymity gone? Is it a myth – something people claim to have, but can’t confirm (like spotting a Sasquatch, Chupacabra, or the Loch Ness monster)? Are we experiencing the 21st century equivalent of looking up a teacher’s phone number in the white pages and pranking the daylights out of him/her?
The optimist would say that this issue can be resolved by becoming completely transparent. Share everything; show you have nothing to hide. This does have some merits, like sharing your blog with students so they can see firsthand the rewards of writing for pleasure. But all it takes is one comment, taken out of context, and there’s a problem.
But shutting everything down and denying the existence of a web footprint is just as incriminating for a teacher. If you don’t want kids to know something, it’s probably bad, right? Maybe, maybe not – but that’s how the adolescent mind works.
So how do teachers deal with a loss of online anonymity?
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