Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another Bebo post; more (probably) to follow

I WAS going to start this post saying ‘one last post about Bebo’ but I realise I would telling porky pies because last week’s Red Mum Echo column concerned how parents can offer some internet nanny protection which emanated from my last Bebo post and is still to be posted yet so in those terms alone - it ain't over. Besides Bebo will run and run.

I got some great responses from the post which I felt I should draw attention to, firstly there is Irish Eyes’ all-round response listing pros and cons and concluding, I think, that if students are becoming addicted spending their time on the site instead of studying there is a problem.

I also liked his analogy of the toilet or potty-talk that is prevalent in the site amongst the Young Uns. I have found the way young people communicate with each other makes me very uncomfortable and maybe that’s a generation thing or maybe I just think looking through Bebo profiles and seeing 14-year-old girls describe themselves in terms that wouldn’t be out of synch with Lolita, and it frightens me.

A pal of the Young Wan is one of the many young girls who have called themselves sexy girl, it is just not appropriate. I can understand why they do it but it is dangerous.

We can see pictures of this young girl, we know where she likes to hang out, what she likes, the works.

Another point which was raised by Irisheyes concerns the fact that once it is on the internet it is on the internet and can be found – the google presence in this case can be damning to these kids for years to come.

If companies do searches on potential employees now, that could become the norm, so surely it could become the norm for colleges to do such internet researches on prospective students.

Since I wrote the last piece on Bebo here and the additional Echo column which I haven't put up here yet and signing up to Bebo as a 14-year-old I came across comments from other Beboers about the Young Wan who was actually mentioned by name.

The comments were made by a girl and they were not nice, so I made a phone call to the concerned parties and told them to remove the comments by that afternoon; thankfully they were removed.

(I make that sound calm and rational, but in fairness when I saw the comments I could have strung people up!)

Interestingly I also learned today of a school that has suspended pupils this week for things they said on Bebo. If bloggers have to be wary of libel then so do Beboers whether they are 14 or 40.

But I started this post to highlight some great points made by others to my original post, do check out Adam who did great investigative journalistic pieces that would put those who have commented on Bebo in the Irish media to shame, really, check them out.

He comments on my piece saying:

A while back I noticed the dangers of Bebo, specifically the way that contact details used to be displayed to friends. In theory that was fine but people were very lax in who they added as friends which is where I came in under the guise of an attractive woman. Over a period of a week I discovered that over 40% of the people who accepted my request for friendship had their contact details displayed!
I actually read this before the cult of Bebo hit our household and meant to comment because I was so impressed with how he viewed it all and how methodically he put substance to his gut feelings.

And I am also impressed with Padraic a 17-year-old who wrote a comment on the positives of Bebo and even shouted out support for the Young Wan. In fairness to him he argues sensibly about the positives of the site and I have to stress again I completely understand it’s appeals – I really do.

Padriac seems to be, dare I say, sensible, (sorry Padriac what young person wants to be called sensible?) and if I was his parent I would be reassured about his Bebo activity, he seems to have it sussed. Fair play.

He says:
"Not being a parent and only being seventeen would probably not put me in the best position to judge you, my own parents or anyone else's for the sheer concern they have for their children's welfare. but I still can't help feeling you've crossed the thin line between concern and paranoia.
Another response came from Paul and he says:
I’ve been a user of the internet almost since it began and I’ve learned a lot. But I’ve always stayed clear of the chat rooms and such.

My blog is my first foray into the idea of putting myself out there and I’m learning that even at the age of 32 and being fairly streetwise, when it comes to the internet I’m still occasionally naïve and make some mistakes. But better me now than my kids in the future.”
And of course Rick O’Shea linked to my original post and him being a Beboer I’m delighted to have his contribution, and as he says himself it is different, he has his safeguards up. Having a public persona, Bebo is a great tool for him but as a Daddy he recognises the implications.
“as a parent myself, looking at some of the 900 or so kids who've linked up with my page it terrifies me the amount of information available. Mates, places they'll be meeting up, photos, even phone numbers in some cases.....”
And there are other responses too from Paul and In My Head, Emma C, and Omaniblog so go check them all out and always remember when on the internet ‘be careful out there!’, seriously do be careful.

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Bernie said...

Excellent coverage of an important concept related to mass communications and culture.

Adam said...

Thanks for linking to my post's. It's nice to have my work appreciated by some.

As for Bebo at the moment, I think it's relatively safe. Because of the fundamental structure of the internet, there'll always be the problem of anonymity, but if you are a responsible user and ask yourself the question "Do I actually know this person?" before accepting invitations then I can't see how you could be leaving yourself exposed!

Red Mum said...

Thats where my initial problem lay, because I do not trust that my daughter would think along those lines "if you are a responsible user and ask yourself the question "Do I actually know this person?" before accepting invitations then I can't see how you could be leaving yourself exposed!"

Ah well, she doesn't want an account now and I am happy about that.

Omaniblog said...

Thanks for the mention. My first thoughts on your approach are buried somewhere as comments on your blog.

I've been away for a few days and am catching up with your developments. Intriguing to see how things have turned.

The fashion for Bebo is so strong now that it would take a really strong minded individual teenager to resist. Why would yur yon be so singular. I reckon anything she says about Bebo is likely to change any day now. So long as you can keep open a channel of communication about how to live in this messy world, you'll be doing a good job. I suppose the "family" is the first experimenting ground where young people try out being different selves.
It is good to come back to you.

I'm jealous of you being able to go to Magnum. I was at a big Magnum exhibition in the Hayward Gallery years ago. That's where I found Salgado. He changed my life.