Last year, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that parents at a private boys College had been urged to monitor their sons’ use of Facebook, with a warning that any mistakes they made in the teenage years could be permanently recorded on the internet and catch up with them later in life.

I would fully endorse this advice. It is simply a physiological fact that the parts of the brain that deal with decision-making are still developing through adolescence. Instances of thoughtlessness, bad language or poor decisions can thankfully be forgotten when spoken face to face. However, the storage capabilities of the databases behind social network sites mean that the careless word, the slanderous comment, the inappropriate photograph is on the permanent record and potentially available to anyone who has access in the future.

Younger students, as well as those who are young in terms of brain development, are simply not mature enough to gauge the possible consequences of careless remarks and comments, or of disclosing private information on social networking sites.

Moreover, I would suggest that we parents who are paying for the internet service have every right to insist we are a ‘friend’ on Facebook, until at least the end of year 10, if not later.

Like most schools, Charlton blocks access to the Facebook and prohibits the use of mobile phones during the school day

I encourage parents to set ground rules for use of mobile phones and the internet and ‘specifically rules that set boundaries on taking and sending of images that are unhelpful or may indeed be used to bully others’. Insisting on being a ‘friend’ may help your child make wise on-line decisions.


Mark Ash
Principal, Charlton Christian College

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