Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.
Here’s a great question I got from Leanne:
I am a Middle School teacher. Many of the teachers in my school want to use websites that state you need to be 13 or above. So far we have avoided them but as technology becomes more pervasive in our school and cooler and cooler websites become available, this is getting harder to stand by. How do you approach using websites that require 13 or above access?
Thank you, Leanne
And my answer:
What a great question. It is getting pervasive and kids are so comfortable on the internet, they find these sites and don’t understand the age restriction. Here’s what I do: I stick with the guidelines. It is too convoluted to get students to understand why it’s OK to break the rule in Case #1 and not in Case #2. Plus, parents don’t understand when our pedagogic judgment is it’s OK This Time and not That Time. It comes out as a subjective decision rather than an objective determination based on facts. As a result, I follow posted rules and find a different website that accomplishes what I need to.
Is there a particular website you’re trying to work around? Maybe I can help with that.