Gangs on the Web

While reading this post by Wesley Fryer I came across an article in the Dallas Morning News about teen gangs and wannabe gang members in Irving, Texas, using the web and social networking sites to come together and publicize their gangs.

I have taught school in Irving for eight years, and I lived there for about 28 years; I am not shocked that there is gang activity in Irving, and I am definitely not shocked that the conservative community of Irving would rather ignore the problem than really deal with it (they do this unsuccessfully with the high teen pregnancy rate too).

In his post Wesley comments on the following quote from Mr. Singley, the superintendent of IISD, “For its part, the Irving school district already blocks access to social networking Web sites. But students get around the filters and are often online during school hours. Superintendent Jack Singley said such activity is an “inappropriate use” of the laptops that the district provides. But he also noted that it’s difficult to tell whether students are using their school computers or home computers to post.”

Wesley’s response to this statement is, “If quoted accurately, the Irving ISD official position appears to be that all digital social networking by students is inappropriate and not authorized. Is that the official policy?

Although I am certainly not a spokesperson for the school district, I think Mr. Singley’s statement is a little too general. Not all social networking sites are blocked in IISD, although it seems that more and more of them are beginning to end up behind the Websense filter and are inaccessible to students and teachers. Unfortunately because of articles like this one in the Dallas Morning News that paint social networking sites in a bad way and focus on the negative instead of the positive, Irving ISD may end up blocking all social networking sites which in my opinion is a momentous mistake.

Please comment with articles, blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc. which demonstrate the positive attributes of social networking sites and Web 2.0. I will need some good examples to show the administrators in Irving ISD if there is any hope to keep these types of sites accessible by students and teachers next year.

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