Since you can’t make Facebook go away, and even if you tried to, you couldn’t, you might as well accept it and deal with it. The fact of the matter is that students need to understand the long view, and they need to understand the importance of the written record. They’ve spent their entire lives online, and they are completely comfortable posting information about themselves online. Now that they’re 18, economic motivations step in, and it is our obligation and duty to protect them. Telling them not to say anything controversial, or forcing them to use privacy settings just won’t cut it – remember, the students who are on the Facebook want to be found and listened to. What they need to understand is the context. They have to understand the need to act now on behalf of the person they’ll be in 4 or 5 or 6 years. Give them that context. Explain to them the value of maintaining a self-image they can be proud of down the road. Work with them on this, not against them – it may be your only chance.
That advice should be going to parents and teachers, as well—not just administrators. Thinking about the “long view” of these media—blogs, wiki editing history, social network site profiles—is a skill that we need to be teaching kids.