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Dear Otto: Should I stick with age limits on websites?

Posted by on December 13, 2012

tech questions

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.

What I’d like to know from readers is: Do you stick with age limits? If not, why not? And how do yo explain it to students and parents? Please vote in the poll and/or scroll down to the comment section and share your thoughts. Thanks for your input!


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-6 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculum, creator of two technology training books for middle school and six ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blogger, a columnist for and TeacherHUB, Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to TeachHUB and Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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2 Responses to Dear Otto: Should I stick with age limits on websites?

  1. Jacqui

    Here’s an email comment I got from a reader:

    As the president of the association (union), I always tell my faculty to follow rules which are posted. If you do not, and get in “trouble” from doing so, there is no way to support what you did. We want students to follow the rules so we should as well.

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