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Social Media and Intellectual Freedom December 11, 2012

Posted by Jen Habley in Check this out!, Committees, Filtering.

Posted on behalf of the AASL Intellectual Freedom Committee

As school librarians and teachers of digital literacy, we understand that social media provides the opportunity to engage in a global community, to be individual and collaborative creators of information, and to explore a seemingly infinite amount of new ideas and interests. Despite the exciting educational applications, many schools still filter social media sites. Blocking this content is not required by the law, and may affect your students’ First Amendment right to access information. Furthermore, filtering social media may give parents and educators a false sense of security and encourage students to violate acceptable use policies by accessing the sites in other ways.

If we are to expect our students to be responsible technology users, we must allow them the right to use it. The unique communities of Web 2.0 require a certain amount of literacy for participation and many of the sites have minimum age requirements, which means that teens must navigate their complex and dramatic social lives at the same time that they start exploring the realm of Facebook and Twitter. Restricting access to social media in school leaves students to socialize in a space that many falsely view as private and without supervision. As a result, children may make poor choices, such as neglecting their homework or engaging in cyberbullying. We should create supportive environments in which students can explore the web and all of its possibilities while modeling social norms and digital etiquette.

There is a great support network available to help you gain access to social media in school through ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Their website provides a list of divisions and committees, as well as links to a variety of resources. For quick reference, download the Intellectual Freedom Brochure from the AASL Intellectual Freedom Committee.


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