Do your kids use Pinterest?

by julie on January 30, 2015

What Pinterest thinks I'm interested in.I’m genuinely interested in how kids use Pinterest. I’ve been asked to look at  security policy for a school where some of the teaching staff want to set up Pinterest boards to share good content with their students and the DT staff want the students to set up their own Pinterest boards as mood boards for their projects. It sounds like a really good use of the available, free, technology, but scrape the surface…… Any help or advice anybody can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Pinterest, on the face of it, is a fairly innocuous site. We get to share the interesting stuff we happen across with our contacts; it’s a fabulous showcase for businesses whose products and services depend on visual impact and lots of teachers think it’s a great way of sharing content with their students – especially for background reading and research.

Pinterest isn’t one of our favourite platforms, but I have recommended it for clients whose businesses are highly visual and some have had astonishing success with it. I certainly haven’t had to worry about any conversation I might have on there, because I’m old enough to look after myself and I’m highly unlikely to be tempted into meeting a predatory paedophile at my age. But schools have to consider the safety of their students on any platform they recommend using.

Here are some of the problems I’ve identified with Pinterest for kids

  1. Comments cannot be disabled for any pins or for any individual accounts
  2. In order to access any boards on Pinterest the visitor MUST have an individual Pinterest account
  3. There do not appear to be any security settings that would make your account invisible
  4. There’s a private messaging function

I looked at some possibilities because I really do think it’s a great resource!

One teacher set up all her boards as secret boards and invited all her students to access them by email. The downside of this is that in order to see the board, the student must then set up a Pinterest account over which the teacher has no control. The fact that the student would not be accessing Pinterest in school is completely irrelevant, since it could be argued that in order to complete the work set (background reading) the student had to set up a Pinterest account. This does then place responsibility for the access to Pinterest squarely on the shoulders of the teacher, who won’t be there when the student is using the account.

The school has some great software which allows access to certain websites to certain groups at set times so it can be tied into the timetable. This means that Design and Technology teachers could certainly oversee the pinning of content in school. The school’s filters should also ensure that no unsuitable content is accessed, but having allowed the domain for that period of time will probably overwrite those filters. And again, the students must have their own personal accounts in order to manage the boards.

It’s all a bit of a minefield and, Draconian though it seems, my inclination is to advise the school that they have no way of managing students’ safety on Pinterest and should not encourage its use for schoolwork. I would be really interested to know if anybody has any work-arounds or has managed to use any other similar system more securely.

It would be absolutely fabulous Pinterest if you could come up with some kind of group account in Pinterest that one or two administrators had control over. It would completely solve the problem and allow even children under the ago of 13 (and how indeed do you verify that?) to use your platform in a safe and controlled environment.


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