AVON, Ind. – While school districts across the state continue to expand their online curriculum, they are all experimenting with what social media sites to allow or not allow for students and staff.
“It really is something school corporations are struggling to figure out how to have some uniformity and constituency with the technology,” said Emily Perry, founder of child advocacy center Susie’s Place.
The Indiana Department Education compiled a map that includes every school district in the state and has information about their technology plans and social media policies.
“This new resource you shared with me really gives parents one more tool to better understand, ‘In my school district, what is the policy? What does my student have access through the technology that a lot of schools are now providing?'” Perry said.
The map lists five social media sites; Blogger, Facebook, Google +, Skype and Twitter. The school districts either allow the services to everyone, teachers only or block them completely. There’s a wide discrepancy between districts even within the same county.
For instance, Carmel Clay Schools has all the sites open to students except for Google+, which only teachers can access. Just up north, Noblesville has everything blocked to students except for Google+.
Perry said these policies can create a dialogue for students and their parents to have about being responsible on the Internet.
“If my child can use school technology to use Skype, ‘s that something that I’m comfortable with or is that something I may need to have an additional conversation with my child to say, ‘here is how to use Skype safely and here’s some risk factors you may come into when using Skype,’” Perry said.
She explained this is a great resource to for parents to be aware of what social media sites they should be monitoring for their children, but there’s a fine line when it comes becoming overprotective.
“You don’t want to be that parent that is trying to micromanage all of their movements because then kids never learn how to be safe on their own,” said Perry. “You want to actively engage with your child so that they can come to you when they have questions, concerns, worries or need help with something and then they can start figuring out how to start making smart decisions on their own.”