To Facebook or not to Facebook…

It seems that signing up to Facebook has become a new stage of puberty these days. Once kids reach a certain age, they have a Facebook account – simple as that!

My dilemma as a grade 5 teacher is whether I should be finding a platform to be teaching kids responsible and effective usage of social networking sites such as Facebook. There are many who argue that kids of 10 and 11 shouldn’t be exposed to social networking (among other Internet tools) yet because of the potential dangers that linger in cyberspace. Then there are those who argue that we as educators should be pre-emptive in our educating by teaching kids the correct behaviours and how to keep themselves safe online before they start experimenting by themselves.

In writing this post, I am essentially after feedback. Who of you out there use social networking within your class? What age group are your students? What are the benefits of social networking in school? What are the disadvantages? What problems have you come across? What platform (Facebook, Ning, etc) do you use?

For those of you who have made a conscious decision not to use social networking in your class, please tell me about your reasons and thinking for this decision.

Any and all feedback is welcomed and I ask you to please forward this post on to anyone who you think may be able to contribute to the discussion.