NJ Principal Asks Parents to Pull the Plug on Social Networking

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News Posted: Thu, Apr 29 2010 4:25 PM
Former rapper Will Smith had it completely wrong when he waxed poetic about how parents just don't understand. It's the principal who has it all backwards, or at least that's what you'll hear if you talk to the students of Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

So what is it that has students in an uproar? In an email to parents earlier this week, Anthony Orsini, the school principal, pleaded with parents to turn their children away from social networking and to more closely monitor their text messaging. Here's part of what he wrote:
Please do the following: sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site. Today!

Let them know that you will at some point every week be checking their text messages online! You have the ability to do this through your cell phone provider.

Let them know that you will be installing Parental Control Software so you can tell every place they have visited online, and everything they have instant messaged or written to a friend. Don't install it behind their back, but install it!

It is time for every single member of the BF Community to take a stand! 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! None.

Parents, of course, are under no obligation to take Orsini's advice and cut their children off from Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking portals, but what's so surprising is the tone in which he adamantly lashes out against such sites.

Part of what has Orsini's feathers so ruffled is the often anonymous practice of cyber bullying. More than just a buzzword, the school's guidance counselor, Meredith Wearly, claims she spends about 75 percent of her day diffusing social networking issues that arise among students.

Stats and graph courtesy of Cyberbullying Research Center

The problem extends beyond Benjamin Franklin Middle School. Recent research found that out of about 4,000 students between the ages of 12 and 18 representing 41 different schools, 20 percent of them admitted to cyber bullying others in their lifetime. In this case, "cyber bullying is when someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online or while using cell phones or other electronics devices." And it would appear that adolescent girls are more susceptible to this behavior than other demographics, with 25.8 percent claiming to have been the victim of cyber bullying at least once in their lifetime, versus 16 percent of adolescent males.

And what of the email Orsini sent out? According to the principal, the reaction so far has been mostly positive, though some students have obviously taken issue with his suggestion.

"I'm not going to do anything bad, so why should I get rid of it?," argues Ali Feniberg, and eighth grade student.

Read the email in its entirely here (scroll down), and then be sure to became a fan of HotHardware's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. Parents, students, and even principals are welcome.
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I understand the Principals concern, but his intentions won't go any farther than that request email. You can't control kids outside of the classroom. Hell some teachers can't control them inside the classroom.

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O come on... let kids be kids. 

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Actually, if parents are not already doing at least part of the things that he suggest then they are not being a good parent. The largest problems with children these days is caused by parents not doing their job to monitor their own children and expecting others to do it for them.

I'm not saying to be a complete control freak, but their are still minors and it is still the parents responsibility to ensure that they grow up to be productive and functional members of society. Kinda hard to do that when you do not provide any monitoring or correction.

Plus parents don't seem to realize just how many predators are out there looking to take advantage of children. The web and electronic communications are the new median for those predators to get access to children.

I'm very protective by nature. Hell, my job requires me to risk life and limb in extreme conditions for extended times to protect most of the people on this sites right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It pisses me off to no end when I see people not making an effort to protect their children.

PS:  If you disagree with me, I'll defend your right to disagree with me till death.  But that doesn't mean I won't tell you to *&^%$#@!

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Right on InfinityzeN!!

This stuff is getting to the point of utter ridiculousness. I mean parents give their fourteen year old a IPhone with all the perks, money to go buy games then they start to complain when they come home with GTA8, and start killing hookers! Or they start texting with some pedophile! (Of course I feel we should do with those guys what Dracula did to his enemies and pin their heads on stakes along the road into town, maybe then they will think twice.)

This does kinda remind me of the whole California happy meal crap. Yeah lets ban it because it is bad for the kid to have a burger! Why cant they just ask Mc D's to have a better selection of healthy happy meals!

We need to let kids be kids. If parents cant teach that things like respect are something you earn, and is not just given on demand. Then they will learn it from Tupac and figure it is given on demand and not earned!

Anyone who want other people to raise their kids, should not be having kids! The only thing this type of behavior teaches, is that people are not responsible for their own actions! Yet I am sure that nowadays parents will be having their kids tell them what to do and how stupid they are, just because someone else tells them how smart the kids are if they follow!

This has all happened before, many times! Once kids start getting indoctrinated then they will only know one way of behaving, and then they will start attacking the people who understand and lived history. By going on websites and telling them they need to be educated? :P

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I feel like this is still a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe it has a lot to do with where I have grown up. There aren't any sexual predators, or extreme cases of cyber bulling here. Not one. I've had Xbox Live since the 6th grade, and it was in the 6th grade that I also established a myspace. Four years later I progressed onto Facebook, and started exploring the internet much more. 


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I actually completely agree with the principle completely, except on a mass scale. I believe that myspace and facebook and twitter should all be shut down, for good. All those sites are good for is causing drama and provoking violence. Look at the world thirty years ago, people got along fine without the use of either of the suggests communication methods. I removed my myspace and facebook accounts due to, to much drama. Now, if they could be government regulated to where there was to be fines for causing drama and you actually had to pay for your unprofessionalism on those sites, things would be great. Be the same like if it was legal to just burn down buildings (arson). Good thing we do have government to control those things. And just like fires burn down buildings, drama on those sites, burns down relationships and professionalism.

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realneil replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 9:17 AM

He's doing his best to deal with a real problem that's impacting his kids. Him and his staff are dealing with this situation daily and they see it as a real problem for the kids they're charged to educate. Any parent who does not implement his suggestions, or at least give them serious consideration are not doing their kids any favors.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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