Report Refutes Claims of Social Networking Dangers
A study debunks the common assumption that MySpace and other social networking sites are breeding grounds for sexual predators seeking to harm students.
Heather Havenstein, Computerworld
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 4:00 PM PDT
The study, which surveyed students between the ages of nine and 17, parents and school district leaders, found that only .08 percent of the more than 1,200 students surveyed had actually met with someone in person that they had encountered online. In addition, 4 percent of students said they have had conversations on a social network that made them uncomfortable, less than 3 percent of students said that unwelcome strangers have tried repeatedly to communicate with them and 2 percent reported that a stranger they met online tried to meet them in person. Parents' responses were nearly identical to student answers to these questions.
"School district leaders seem to believe that negative experiences with social networking are more common than students and parents report," the report said. "Only a small minority of students has had any kind of negative experience with social networking in the last three months."
The report, called "Creating and Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social and Educational - Networking," was funded in part by Microsoft, News Corp. (which owns MySpace) and Verizon. The National School Boards Association is a non-profit association of school boards representing 95,000 local school board members. In stark contrast to what students reported, more than half the districts said that students providing personal information online has been "a significant" problem in their schools.
The students surveyed were heavy users of social networking,