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DoD Opens Access to Social Media Sites

Today I read this good news in the April 2010 issue of the Family News—the monthly newsletter from Army Community Service (ACS) and ArmyOneSource.com:

DoD Opens Access to Social Media Sites
All users of unclassified computers in the .mil domain will now be allowed to access social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, subject to local control if bandwidth demand or Web integrity become issues. When it announced its policy review, the Pentagon said it would search for a way to strike a balance between giving troops the ability to use such social networking tools and maintaining security on its much-attacked computer networks and protecting the privacy of troops and Family members. In May 2007, the Pentagon blocked worldwide.mil computer access to YouTube, MySpace and 10 other popular sites featuring audio and video clips, citing concerns over the amount of bandwidth the sites took up. For further details, go to http://myarmyonesource.com/News/2010/04/socialmedia . To read more on this topic, go to http://myarmyonesource.com/News/2010/04/blog

Sounds like good news to me, but when you read further you realize the military is not providing more bandwidth so the problems of communication will continue. I know that even if we had access in schools, the bandwidth is a huge issue.

This issue drew my attention, not just because I have two sons serving overseas, but because recently a friend of mine was "trapped" at Walter Reed with her injured son. I use the term trapped because her cell phone wouldn’t work in the hospital – which we understand – and the computers available there for military and family members would not permit access to social media websites like Facebook. When he healed enough for her to be in her hotel room more often, she could access facebook and keep the thousands of us following her son’s healing informed. 

When my #1 son was life-flighted to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville years ago, his hospital room in the teen part of the new Children’s hospital had a computer with internet access available for the patients from their beds. They acknowledged that teens that had access to email and their friends healed faster and were more actively involved in their healing than those who felt isolated and trapped.

Now, let’s think about schools for a moment. Our students and faculty members enjoy access outside of school if they can afford it. When they come to school, we isolate them from each other in an attempt to focus their learning and control their interactions. Yet we never get the opportunity to teach them safety, privacy, and security hands-on. 

Do you see a conundrum? I am happy for the military service members.