I've been engaged in a conversation with some of my fellow tech coordinators in my state about social networking, more specifically Facebook, and how it all fits into schools and the curriculum. Some of the schools have blocked sites like this and a few others, definitely the minority, have left them open. The discussion has ranged from the blocking issue to teaching how to use Facebook and the deeper issues of privacy and posting in general.
Here's my take: Our students are going to be using Facebook, and the like, whether we teach them about it or not. We do not need to teach them "how" to use this venue to express themselves as they will be able to grasp the mechanics of sites like this far easier than we realize. What we do need to teach them about are the pros and cons of such postings. We need to teach them that it may not be in their best interest to post that party picture from last Friday night because a future scholarship or job may be affected. We need to teach them that, even though the posting is done in private, it is there for the world to see. We also need to teach them that it may be a great way to network with others, if used properly. If we don't teach them these things, who will?
Now for the questions. Do you cover things like this in any of your classes in high school or middle school? If so, how are they covered? What type of class do they take to learn these things? Or does your school just block social networking sites and ignore the rest of the issues? I look forward to hearing your comments.