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OK so this may sound really stupid to a lot of you but….

What is the difference between us telling a student to use a fake name on their blog or on the web and a 13 year old pretending to be 18 on myspace? We teach them to be safe on the web, to hide their identity to basically ‘lie’ about who they are. But, when they do it on myspace we say how horrible that is that they pretend to be someone else. We then go so far as professionals to put our Biases and Disclosure notices to show how honest we are.

Now pretend you’re 13….is this confusing?

[tags]myspace, biases, disclosure, web safety[/tags]

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. To add one more thin layer to these situational ethics, I often claim that I’m “13 or under” when I am installing some downloaded software, so that it’ll stop asking me personal questions and skip straight to the install! Of course every now and then I’m thwarted when I get a message telling me that it’s only available to those 14 and older… I realize this is not quite the same as your other situations, but it’s just one more aspect of our online existence. I agree that your examples are clearly difficult for a young adolescent to wrestle with.

  2. I think asking our students to remain anonymous is very different than students pretending to be someone they aren’t. Pretending you are 18 when you are 13 and showing provocative pictures is not the same as remaining anonymous.

  3. Dennis Harter Reply

    I think the key is that in BOTH cases the child’s safety is what we are concerned with. That’s a pretty powerful motivation and one that I think that child should be given the chance to understand.

  4. I’m with you, Jeff. (Sorry, Jenny.) I think that we can protect our students’ identity, and honor them as individuals, without resorting to fake names. I ask my students to use first names only, and work out instances where they might be compromising their safety or privacy on a case by case basis. I don’t like blogs or bloggers who remain entirely anonymous.

  5. I suggest pseudonyms or the use of just first names. I think it is a fine line. I am probably more lenient with privacy than many are as I allow all wikis and blogs to be public. I truly believe that I’d rather guide them in the world as real people rather than let them emerge in the real Internet ocean alone at age 18 (or at home.) So, although I watch things and try to have wisdom and discretion about privacy, allowing them to share a little creates great teachable moments, and that is what I do. I teach. (And I protect.) Great thoughts!

  6. OK, just to point out uncompromised paranoia, suppose one blogged not just as a pseudonym, but as a pseudospecie?

    (It’s not that dogs don’t have important thoughts – it’s just that it’s limiting. And then there’s coming up with an e-mail addy…)

  7. Pingback: Borderland » On Anonymous Student Blogging

  8. I see your point, Jeff. How much responsibiity are we teaching our students if we take “anything that has sugar in it” from them while at school, then give them the keys to the “candy store” at home? We have to deal with filter issues in our district that are simply unreasonable (for example: any site that has the word “blog” in it is block). I believe we should have full access all the time. Let’s be realistic: our students are not getting the supervision they need at home, so giving the student full access at school and taking advantage of “teachable moments” in the classroom might actually help the students to make good choices when the are not with us.

    I have the kids use first name/last initial because my county is trying to avoid possible lawsuits. I also have my class blogs set up so I have to moderate any post or comment. I do this to cover my butt because my county is still pretty jumpy about using read/write mediums in the classroom. In the end, I think we need to do our best to walk the line with integrity.

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