In this case, the folks at the Department of Defense are asking military families what they really need of social media. It's not an easy issue, since there are a lot of legitimate security and privacy concerns.
Check out Use of Web 2.0 Capabilities by Military Families, and few excerpts are here:
- As the mother of a soldier currently deployed in Afghanistan, we find the use of facebook priceless. With the time difference, he is able to give a brief message or leave an e-mail on his time, rather than staying up until all hours. When I get up in the morning I am able to see if he updated his post, letting me know that at least as of that time, he was OK. This lets me get started on my day without having the constant worry of “is he OK”.
- In this globally connected, interactive world we live in today, these tools are not only vital to family survival during multiple deployments and family separation but critical to Soldier moral and mental health. As a parent, being separated from your children takes a toll on you mentally as you question your decision to remain in the military and spend so much time away from them, especially today for parents who are on their third or fourth deployment.
- One thing I have learned from Soldiers is that they will find a way to get the tools they need. Making social media tools unavailable to Soldiers while overseas would do two things; 1. Disrupt morale amongst deployed units, especially ones that are currently using these tools and then get cut off. I believe this prohibition would be counter-productive and a foolish move by the military. 2. It would increase the number of Soldiers purchasing their own cell phones with international calling and data plans. This would cause additional financial strain on Soldiers and their families as well as cause phone banks and computer stations to sit unused because Soldiers are on their own personal cell phones updating their facebook status instead of using DOD approved stations.
HT: Steve Lunceford, twitter.com/dslunceford