March 31st, 2009

Teens Learn About Sharing Too Much Online

It is that time of year when high school students are starting to learn whether they have been accepted to their dream colleges.  But now, rather than knowing with just a glance at the thick or thin envelope that arrives via snail mail in the privacy of their homes, students are learning of admission decisions online.  And they are checking constantly for the updates while in the classroom.  Then, they are posting the results to their Facebook, MySpace and Twitter accounts.  Reported in the LA Times today, however, that public notification could cause tension among friends:

“…for every member of the Facebook nation, even a successful admissions season poses challenges: Should you post your good fortune on your home page before learning whether your best friend got in? Or check your iPhone for online decisions, with everyone watching? If you put your college wish list online, will you be humiliated if the rejections come thick and fast?

“Some students will frantically check their e-mail or BlackBerries at school, a scenario that recently inspired a plot line on “Gossip Girl,” the television show about a New York City prep school. (Checking their Yale applications, lead characters Serena and Dan learned they were admitted, while Blair was wait-listed, launching her on a self-destructive cycle of vengeance.)”

Teens have grown up sharing everything about their lives: the good, the bad and the ugly.  Does this encourage honesty because it becomes harder to lie when everything is revealed online eventually?  Mabye that is an upside of living very public lives.  But, just as I took ettiquette classes as a child when manners were nearing extinction, I wonder if teens should be offered classes that teach them how to protect themselves in this online world as privacy is nearing extinction.

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