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Social Networking

A little about Social Networking (copied from PowertoLearn.com):

Social networking has become extremely popular among children, teens, and young adults. Sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Xanga, Bebo, and Friendster attract your students by offering a free space online for them to post information about themselves and to interact with others. Although young people appreciate these sites as special places to gather with friends, social networking poses problems related to child safety online.

After your students sign up for a social networking site, they'll be given their own place online. It's there that they can post photos of themselves and friends, add information about themselves, and add links to their friends' pages, etc. Your students will take great pride in the profiles/Webpages they create. Some of these pages open with music and are decorated beautifully with artwork and designs. Many of the pages contain photos that make your students look older, sexier, or more macho, and many also contain personal information that should not be posted on the Web. It's from these pages that the young people online learn about each other and meet others they know only through online connections. While online they enjoy messaging each other and having fun with kids they think are their age.

Most of the social networking sites are designed for people 13-16 and older. Your students under 13 should not be involved in social networking sites. Although the sites specify that registrants must be of a certain age, your students can enter any age they want when registering for membership. Even if your students are of the correct age to become a member of a site, chances are that they'll say they are several years older.

You need to realize that social networking is part of your students' world. It's "the" thing to do now-a-days, and in many ways it's like gathering at someone's home, in a fast food restaurant, or talking or text messaging on the cell telephone with friends. But, like other things in your students' lives such as going to the mall, meeting new “friends” at a party, etc. it can be dangerous.

As a teacher, you probably won't be dealing with social networks at school, for most schools block access to social networking sites. As new sites evolve, you'll need to add these to your listing of blocked sites. Even though the kids probably won't be social networking in your classroom, you'll most likely hear your students talking about messaging and their profiles/Webpages. It's good to keep up an on-going discussion about online social networking with your students, so you can help them learn how to stay safe online.

Taken from: Power to Learn: Internet Smarts: http://www.powertolearn.com/internet_smarts/interactive_case_studies/index.shtml

Teen social networking by the numbers:
51% of teens check their sites more than once a day.
22% check their sites more than 10 times a day.
39% have posted something they later regretted.
37% have used the sites to make fun of other students.
25% have created a profile with a false identify.
24% have hacked into someone else's social networking account.
13% have posted inappropriate pictures or videos of themselves or others online.