Experts say such incidents belong to a growing trend in which frank outpourings online are causing personal and public dramas, often taking on a life they wouldn’t have if the Web had not come along and turned individuals into publishers.
Some also speculate that more scandalous blog entries — especially those about partying and dating exploits — will have ramifications down the road.
So does this “blogs attract pedophiles” meme has sputtered out, only to be replaced by the “blogs will ruin you” meme? Or the “blogs will create young terrorists” meme?”
That’s what happened at a middle school in Michigan last fall, when principals started receiving complaints from parents about some students’ blog postings on Xanga. School officials couldn’t do much about it. But when the students found out they were being monitored, a few posted threatening comments aimed at an assistant principal — and that led to some student suspensions.
“It was just a spiraling of downward emotions,” says the school’s principal. She spoke on the condition that she and her school not be identified, out of fear that being named would cause another Web frenzy.
“Kids just feed into to that and then more kids see it and so on,” she says. “It’s a negative power — but it’s still a power.”
Ah yes, but there is an upside.
Still, she thinks blogging is worth it — to stay in touch with friends and to air her more creative work, including essays.
“I suppose in that way,” she says, “I think of blogs as ‘open mic nights’ online.”
Ok, seriously, these are big issues for schools, and they are only going to get bigger. Not just the fact that kids are blogging. An even bigger issue is that parents don’t know how to deal with it, which is why they are complaining to schools. Like it or not, schools have a boatload of education to be doing, with kids AND parents. (And teachers…) Shutting down access is not the answer. Putting the fear of god into them is not the answer.
Frame it any way you like, kids now have a voice, moreso than most schools. We are losing a lot of the traditional control over content that we had. We need to recognize that education is becoming something much different from what it used to be. It’s not a monlogue any longer. It’s dialogue, conversation, collaboration. Let’s celebrate it instead of fight it because if journalism, politics and business are any indication, resistance is futile.