Apr 30, 2010

Apple talks Flash and Jersey Principal bans Facebook at home

Yesterday, Steve Jobs posted an "open" letter regarding his (er, Apple's) position on Flash.  While the article (here: Apple Article) is very thought-out and well-articulated, I think there is at least one point he tries to make that falls way short of be forthcoming: openness.  He talks about how Flash is closed but that Apple is open.  Maybe it's just me, but any system that requires an "approval process" for applications to be developed for it does *not* qualify as "open."

You may or may not have heard about various apps for the iPhone family that have been denied.  Most famously is the one showing political cartoons.  Of course, once the creator of those cartoons was given an award, Apple changed it's mind.  Still, there are apps for sexual positions that are freely available by searching for "education."  Yes, do a search for educational tools, and what do you find? Sex.  Ridiculous.  At the same time, however, hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of apps have been denied by Apple.  Do a Google search for things like "Rejected iPhone Apps" or "Apple rejected my app" and you'll find far too many examples of the Gestapo that is Apple.

Mr. Jobs, you have some very legitimate arguments for not using Flash.  But, watch the finger-pointing and quit taking lessons from the Clinton Dictionary of Common Terminology.

Also yesterday, I was pointed toward a  New Jersey Article which reports that a principal is telling his parents they should ban their kids from Facebook, Twitter, and all other social networking sites... AT HOME!  Are you kidding me with this!?  What I allow my child to do or not do AT HOME is not the business of anyone other than law enforcement or child protective services.  No, I do not do anything that would warrant either of those, but that's my point.  If I allow my children to communicate through Facebook, Twitter, etc, then that is my right and my choice as my child's parent. 

The main reason for this outrageous request is to "keep them safe."  Bull-ony.  This is like saying kids should stay off the playground because they might fall off the slide, or get hit with a swing, or maybe trip and fall while walking.  As parents of a student that uses Facebook, I can tell you what we do.  We watch our child's posts.  We also talk to and educate our child when he posts something he shouldn't or joins some dumb group.  The point is - we EDUCATE him. 

Do tell our children they cannot go outside and play?  No, we EDUCATE them on the dangers: passing cars, stray dogs, random strangers.  We teach them to play in the yard.  We teach them not to run into the street between two parked cars.  Do they always listen?  Of course not.  But, with each mistake, a lesson is learned.  When I was a child, I *did* run out between two parked cars.  I nearly got run over.  It scared the crud out of me and to this day, I will look both ways more than any normal human does.  Did I burn myself on the stove when I was kid? Of course.  What did I learn? The stove was HOT!  Did I cut myself with a shaving razor when I was young?  Yeap.  What did I learn? Razor blades are sharp, and I should be careful.

Watching our children online is no different.  Banning them from social media is not the answer.  The answer is to EDUCATE the students, the parents, the community.  Teach them how to use Facebook and Twitter (and whatever other social networks come down the line) responsibly and effectively.  We protect our children as best we can, and much of that comes through educating them.  Sometimes, that education comes from life's experiences.

As Dory in Finding Nemo said, "Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him."

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