Today, while giving an in-service to some really great middle school teachers, I pulled an analogy out of the air… and now I wonder if it painted the picture I wanted.
I compared MySpace ™ to Elvis.
A lot of adults- educators, parents, or otherwise- hate MySpace (and other sites like it.). They don’t like the potential threat it carries with kids who don’t understand or care about internet-stranger-danger. It is commonly considered a bad influence on the thinking skills of young people. Adults don’t always understand why anyone would want to spend that much time posting and communicating and requesting “friends.” Many adults wish that MySpace would just go away, so that things will go back to the way they were before.
In the mid-1950s, Elvis Presley was all the rage. Girls screamed and cried over him. Boys thought he was the coolest. Some adults even got caught up in Elvis fever. But many adults saw Elvis as a threat. His effect on the minds of young people was dangerous . His singing and dancing was scandalous. Why would anyone want to waste time listening to him? They wished he would just go away, so that things could go back the way they were before.
Elvis didn’t go away just because a lot of adults didn’t like him. Neither will MySpace. In their respective generations, both have made a significant impact on the lives of young people.
How adults respond to the MySpace issue will also make a significant impact. Are you as an educator going to be the naysayer, the finger-pointer, the accuser of the “evil empire” that is the MySpace generation? Or are you going to open your mind to the possibility that there could be something useful, productive, and… yes, even educational about MySpace?
With the appropriate boundaries, MySpace-and other sites like it- CAN BE a good thing. Let’s do a better job of teaching kids how to use the tools they have appropriately.