First and foremost, I believe that in the vast majority of schools there truly is a "two lives" mentality: At school, there is a clear belief that technology is acceptable (and important) as a tool for academics and learning...yet it's almost taboo for social communication. The lack of understanding on the part of adults in school settings...combined with parents' fears...contributes to the division between the two lives.
Case in point: Not too far in the distant past, our small school district launched a major "web presence" campaign. We created a new website, Facebook page, set up an Instagram account, etc. We made Facebook available to students before and after school and during lunch, believing that since students were on social media all the time anyway, it would be a GREAT way to disseminate information and hook students into looking to the web for news and information. It didn't take long before a parent decided it was bad news because of cyber-bullying. Pressure quickly mounted from a couple of parents and one teacher, and before anyone knew what was happening, the district went back to blocking Facebook during the school day.
Bummer, on so many fronts. First of all, social media IS part of students' lives. They rely on it; they use it; they claim to not know what they would do without it. Yet, even though we, as adults, know that this is a powerful medium for communicating with students, it was removed as an option for connecting with them INSTEAD OF using it as an opportunity to provide education and information about digital citizenship, online safety, and personal responsibility in virtual environments.
We ask students to lead two lives when it comes to their use of technology at school, and the adults, as well, have two sets of standards for how we handle issues when they arise. If a student is behaving badly in the lunchroom, we don't pull the plug and cancel lunch...telling the students that because a french fry was tossed across the table, they've lost the privilege of eating. No, we would meet with the students, review the lunchroom rules, contact the parents, and move forward with intentional and purposeful GUIDANCE to help students behave appropriately. When it comes to technology use in schools, it's a different story. Is it because social media is still new enough for adults that we're afraid to police infractions in the school setting? Do we really think students will stop behaving irresponsibly outside of school if we don't help to educate them on digital citizenship when they are IN school?
Funny thing is, by hesitating to embrace a ONE life approach, schools are perpetuating the belief that students and parents may have that it's o.k. to behave one way online in "social settings" and another way online when it's for "school stuff." Folding the two into a single set of expectations for what it means to be a good digital citizen, period, may just make for a far more just and good set of young people growing up in a highly digitized world.
ISTE. (2007). ISTE Standards for Students. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards-for-students or http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-S_PDF.pdf
Lavelle, M. (5 Aug. 2014). What did "Generation Like" think of "Generation Like"? PBS Frontline. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/media/generation-like/what-did-generation-like-think-of-generation-like/
Ohler, J. (2011). Character education for the digital age. Educational Leadership. 26(5). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb11/vol68/num05/Character-Education-for-the-Digital-Age.aspx
PBS Frontline. (18 Feb. 2014). Generation Like. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/generation-like/