Remember when you were a teenager?
And you had thousands of friends on Facebook?
That doesnâ€™t describe my childhood, either, but it rings true to many of todayâ€™s teens.
According to a survey, a childâ€™s social media development begins at nine and over the next four year period, their online activity evolves from just viewing online content to using social media platforms.
Social networking safety issues have, of course, become a big concern – meaning parents and schoolteachers are trying to regulate young people’s internet usage.
However, controls are often poorly reinforced, as evident by teachers who decided it would be a good idea to copy a photo of a schoolgirl from her Facebook profile, in order to demonstrate the dangers of posting private images online to an assembly.
Oh, and did I mention? The 15-year-old schoolgirl was wearing a bikini in the photo.
Pupils at Eggbuckland Community College in Plymouth, Devon, were shown the blown-up image at a packed assembly, alongside a portfolio of other images scooped up from Facebook. The tactic at the 1327-pupil specialist arts school reportedly left the girl dismayed.
The schoolgirlâ€™s mum was furious and slammed the teachers. She also complained to the school head and education watchdog Ofsted. Talking to a local newspaper, she stated:
“They took the photo from her Facebook profile – she put it on there last year. They used other photos of kids from the neck up but for some reason they thought it was OK to use a picture of my daughter in her bikini. Why did they have to use an image like that to make their point? Then they pointed her out in the assembly.â€
“I got a phone call from my daughter in the afternoon. When she told me about it I went from nought to 60 – I was so upset at work I was sent home. She’s really upset and hurt and this has knocked her confidence. She’s not the type of girl who likes attention like this. “She’s a tom-boy, she doesn’t wear make-up and she doesn’t even have her ears pierced. It’s not often you even get her in a bikini.â€
“I’ve now written to the school, Ofsted and the governors about it. The headteacher has since phoned me and couldn’t me more apologetic. I don’t think she was aware it was going to happen.”
This isnâ€™t the first time that an incident like this occurred.
A student sued her school in an almost identical incident a year ago.
Fair enough that kids are warned about the dangers of social networking, and the importance of choosing privacy options carefully… but really??? A bikini picture to demonstrate the issue???
A useful lesson could have been planned for the students about how to prevent certain images from being publicly viewed, but the teachers seem to have placed the entire focus on a girl wearing a bikini… Itâ€™s hard to believe that pupils coming out of that assembly learned a valuable lesson.
The schoolâ€™s response to the mother of the girl was apologetic, but equally dumbed down.
A Plymouth City Council spokesperson said on behalf of the school, whose motto is ‘Learning, caring, achieving’:
“We cannot comment on the incident itself. The advice given to children and parents is that it is very difficult to ensure any picture is completely private and it is important to positively manage their online identity and profile and think carefully before sharing personal content.”
Thereâ€™s a multitude of ways to preach social networking privacy best practices. Does a schoolgirl in a bikini picture qualify?