Marshwood Middle School Presentations

On Thursday, I talked to students at Marshwood Middle School in Eliot, Maine. There were 565 of them and I went through the usual, cyberbullying, online predators, sexting and then I did my Facebook thing. I told them I have an alter ego who asked some students to be friends with them and then I said, "How well do you think you guys did?" You could hear a pin drop.

I was asked by the school not to show photos I found, even though I block out faces, so I obeyed, but I did find:

•60 were asked to be a friend of my alter ego
•58 approved my alter ego as a friend
•5 asked who I was, but 3 still approved me
•65% were boys; 35% girls
•25% list their cell phone number in their profile – this was evenly divided between boys & girls
–3 girls also listed their home phone
•65% list their AIM screen name
•All list an email address (sometimes two)
•3 boys & 1 girl listed their home address
•One girl had over 400 photos
•37% have videos
•One of the videos was taken in homeroom while students were playing basketball (no teacher in sight)
•Some also filled out surveys, revealing more info about themselves
•It didn’t matter if they put in a birthdate that wasn’t really theirs (one boy listed his as 1904) or that they already graduated from high school in 1989, it’s not that hard to find students at their school. Anyone can go to the local newspaper's web site, do a search for the school name + honor roll and come up with a list of student names, then plug those names into the search box at Facebook to ask students to be a friend.

Which is what I did.

Afterwards, I got some really good questions from the students. I don't usually get a lot, but these kids were great. Some had good comments as well. I was really pleasantly surprised.

My parent talk that night went great as well. I was happy.

This was until I went to my alter ego's FB profile when I got home to find some of the kids were on a witch hunt to find out who my alter ego was. They weren't even close. They thought it was one girl, whose photo did look photoshopped, and began harassing her on her wall. Then they found another girl and started bugging her. I actually contacted both of them on my Netcrimes FB account to let them know to just ignore, delete and block these kids. Both girls were grateful and thanked me.

I am just happy it is only a handful of students who are doing this. Which means I got through to over 500 of them.

What these kids who went on the witch hunt don't realize is that my alter ego (I have two, a boy and a girl) may not have been a girl and that alter ego may not be in their age group, or even on this side of the USA, or even in the USA. So they started attacking people they friended without doing what I suggested to them - go through your friends list and delete anyone who isn't REALLY your friend.

Of the 58 who did approve me, only four have deleted my alter ego. A bit disappointing, but not surprising. It's a big deal to have a lot of friends on FB and the more you have, the more popular you are. At least I can keep an eye on them and quite honestly, if I find something that needs to be dealt with, I will contact the school to let them know what's going on.

Let's hope my "words of wisdom" eventually get to that handful.


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