In a bold move, middle-school principal Anthony Orsini asked his students’ parents to cancel their kids’ Facebook accounts. Quoted on CNN.com, he says “There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! Let me repeat that – there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!”
The main reason for his stance is that kids twelve to fourteen don’t have the emotional strength to handle the mean spirited bullying that permeates much of these young teens’ social networking experiences. According to Orsini, sites such as Facebook and newcomer Formspring make it easy for bullies to say hurtful things anonymously.
He pointed to his own school counselors, who spend hours resolving spats that started online, as well as to recent teenage suicides in Missouri, Massachusetts and New York.
To sum it all up, Orsini concludes that the “casual cruelty of an unsupervised 12-year-old online is a more realistic threat to their children than the oft-raised specter of sexual predators.”
To that, I say “Ahem!”
The devastating stories of suicides from bullied girls really haunt me. The worst one (in my mind) was when the bullier was a MOTHER! Beyond belief, isn’t it?
My kids are older, and didn’t have to go through their early adolescence with social networking sites. So, I can’t draw from personal experience here. But although I certainly applaud Orsini for taking a stand, I don’t know if his solution is the right solution for every family.
My daughter’s a high-school senior (and 18 years old), and I see her using Facebook responsibly, and I see the wonderful way it helps her keep in touch with friends around the world. So, while appreciating the sentiment behind Orsini’s demands, I stand behind my belief that banning all social networking for thirteen and fourteen-year olds may not be right for all families.
While, we’re on the subject, remember that kids have to be thirteen to be on Facebook legally, but, of course, that doesn’t stop them. Just thought I’d mention it anyway.
So, what do you think? Do you think that all parents should prohibit all middle-school students from participating in social networking?