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,
SAN FRANCISCO--The future of e-mail might be found on the pages of MySpace.com and Facebook.
Just ask a group of teen Internet entrepreneurs, who readily admit that traditional e-mail is better suited for keeping up professional relationships or communicating with adults.
"I only use e-mail for my business and to get sponsors," Martina Butler, the host of the teen podcast Emo Girl Talk, said during a panel discussion here at the Mashup 2007 conference, which is focused on the technology generation. With friends, Bulter said she only sends notes via a social network.
"Sometimes I say I e-mailed you, but I mean I Myspace'd or Facebook'ed you," she said.
To be sure, much has been written about the demise of e-mail, given the annoyance of spam and the rise of tools like instant messaging, voice over IP and text messaging. But e-mail has hung on to its utility in office environments and at home, even if it's given up some ground to new challengers. It may be that social networks are the most potent new rival to e-mail, one of the Internet's oldest forms of communication. With tens of millions of members on their respective networks, MySpace and Facebook can wield great influence over a generation living online, either through the cell phone or the Internet.
"I don't know any teen who doesn't have a phone with them all the time."
--Catherine Cook, president, MyYearbook.com
And if you're among those who believe teens are the future, then e-mail could be knocked down a rung. For example, Craig Sherman, CEO of Gaia Online, a virtual world for teens and college kid
Lester Public Library has increased its Web presence by utilizing what is known as ‘social software.’
Social software as defined by Wikipedia (a fine example of social software in and of itself!):
Social software enables people to rendezvous, connect or collaborate through computer-mediated communication. Many advocates of using these tools believe (and actively argue or assume) that these create actual community, and have adopted the term "online communities" to describe the social structures that they claim result. They are used inside organizations or by communities of practice/interest
The more specific term collaborative software applies to cooperative work systems and is usually narrowly applied to software that enables work functions. Distinctions between usage of the terms "social" and "collaborative" is in the applications not the tools, although there are some tools that are only rarely used for work collaboration.