Some practical recommendations on teens and social networking: based on some good primary research

Terry Freedman has written an important article over at Tech Learning. summarizing some extensive work he has done trying to understand teens and social networks. (Oh, and the Tech learning rSS feed is fixed, subscribe here.)

Here are his conclusions that bear repeating. These conclusions line up with the anecdotal evidence I observe daily in my own classroom:

“These arise from my own survey and other sources.

  1. Teens are not as savvy as they and we might think. They are not able to fully assess risk, and even when they do assess risk they don’t necessarily behave accordingly. Therefore schools should do more than scaremongering or reading the riot act. They should:
  • Provide teenagers with practical strategies to help them avoid giving away private information.
  • Encourage the use of social networking sites in school in order to train students in their proper use.
  • Ensure that students fully understand that it is not easy to delete all traces of oneself from a community, because of comments left on other people’s blogs or profiles.
  • Encourage teachers to join online communities for the purpose of CPD. The school could even have its own Ning community, or similar, for the exchanging of ideas and resources, and for virtual staff meetings. Taking part in an online community would help teachers to understand their students’ experience.
  1. Teenagers use social networking sites and similar Social networking sites in order to do school-related work. Therefore it may be a good idea to encourage popular social networking sites to provide easily accessible resources that students could make use of.
  2. Encourage social networking sites to make deletion of personal data a one-click operation, or as near to that as possible”

Thank you Terry for not only having opinion, but some good primary research. Now, we need to some extensive follow up research with larger more representative samples.

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One thought on “Some practical recommendations on teens and social networking: based on some good primary research

  1. Personally, I would not use a popular networking site (myspace etc.) in a school setting. I don’t think we need to mirror their activity. I’m more interested helping them to broaden themselves and their interests by teaching them to be makers. Why not avoid mySpace et al….all together and teach them to create their own spaces… teach html, css, javascript, AS3, php. Give them the opportunity to make, give them reasons why chatting on myspace is just a waste of time. Give them tools. Maybe not all of them will go to MIT and GATech or contribute at TED, but the people who do are creators not just chatty little end users.

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