It’s prize giving at Flea’s school this week.

I know, because one of the school’s Twitter accounts Tweeted about it.

I also know that one of the junior classes had a really fun looking field trip last week, and the kids got covered in mud. I know that because another class Twitter account Tweeted a photo of it. I know about science classes and prizes and homework.

I know a lot of stuff, basically.

On the one hand, it’s fantastic – because frankly, I’m not nearly organised or studious enough to read those weekly updates that come home in Flea’s bag, I only ever check the school website to look at term dates and opening hours of the uniform shop, because Flea’s lost yet another school jumper.

On the other hand, I kind of hope my kid never ends up on that Twitter feed. 

I made a conscious decision early on that Flea (not her real name) is entitled to create her own digital footprint, when she’s old enough to actually understand what a digital footprint is, and how it can impact her life.

Personally, I don’t think eight is old enough to do that. I’ve seen friends of Flea’s on Twitter, Tweeting their teachers, talking about their friends, using everyone’s full names. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t worry me. And that’s without even mentioning the shock of seeing primary school kids posting photos on Twitter asking people to rate them on a scale that goes from “hot” to “dog”.

So while Flea has a blog, and she’s just joined Instagram, there are strict rules in place around her use of technology. Things like:

  • You never use your real name online.
  • Your Instagram account is private.
  • Never post a picture where you can see your school uniform logo.
  • Never give out our address, or the name of your school.
  • Never post a photo of another child unless their Mum or Dad has said it’s okay.
  • Your Apple accounts are linked to mine, so every message you get, I get.

But it worries me that, actually, Flea has a digital footprint already – on her school’s website. So I’ve added to her social media rules:

  • You don’t follow, or engage with, any of your school’s social media accounts
  • You don’t follow, or engage with, any other kids at your school who don’t follow our rules.

I feel a bit mean, because part of me thinks how cool it would be if Flea could Tweet her friends after school? But then I figure she’s probably too busy Skyping and talking to them on X-Box Live to feel too badly done about it.

I do sort of feel that if schools are going to BE on social media (and it’s great that they are) then should also be talking to kids about how to engage with the school (and others) safely.

I strongly suspect very few schools have the time and expertise required to do that – and to be fair, they need the support of parents who are often spectacularly uninterested in attending those Internet safety evenings.

Or maybe I should just relax and remember that nothing, but nothing, is likely to get a kid off a social network faster than realising their teachers are on it…

What do you reckon?