Last Wednesday, parents at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, N.J., received an unexpected e-mail from their principal: A plea to keep their middle schoolers off Facebook.
“There is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!” Principal Anthony Orsini wrote in the e-mail. “They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause, and I don’t want any of our students to go through the unnecessary pain that too many of them have already experienced.”
Orsini wrote the e-mail, according to the New Jersey Record, out of concerns that students are increasingly being subjected to bullying and inappropriate content on social network sites.
“Most parents are excellent about monitoring kids online,” he said. “But once someone says something about a student’s sexuality or body image or friends, you can’t take it back. The damage is done. Those kids are totally distracted in school. It consumes their lives.”
Parents and educators had mixed reactions to Orsini’s request.
“We have to develop kids to make responsible choices,” said Bergenfield, N.J., Schools Superintendent Michael Kuchar. “Just taking away something that is very popular isn’t going to be the answer.”
In his e-mail, Orsini also told parents that “90% of all homework does not require the internet, or even a computer.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.