The social-networking site MySpace and the nation’s state attorneys general last week announced an agreement aimed at keeping young people safe from sexual predators.
MySpace agreed to take a number of steps to protect children, including allowing parents to provide e-mail addresses that would allow MySpace to block anyone with those addresses from setting up profiles, and creating a closed “high school” section for users under age 18. The agreement also calls for the popular Web site to create a task force to explore ways to develop technology that will allow for age and identify verification.
In recognition of such growing concerns about Internet safety, the National Association of Secondary School Principals has adopted a policy statement with recommendations for educators and policymakers about Internet usage.
Principals face a “triple challenge” when it comes to the Internet, the policy statement says: protecting students from online predators; respecting their First Amendment rights; and encouraging them to use the Internet for learning.
Students live in a “new social and academic environment with enormous potential for innovation in teaching and learning,” it says. “Unfortunately, it also represents a safety minefield for students and the adults who care for them.”
The NASSP says school leaders need to become familiar with all aspects of the Internet, social-networking sites, blogs, and the like; set up technology teams to advise on related issues; educate staff and students on the boundaries of the law; protect against cyberbullying; and guide teachers on using the Internet as a teaching tool.
A version of this article appeared in the January 23, 2008 edition of Education Week