Yes, social networking can be kid-friendly

Yes, social networking can be kid-friendly

Summary: Many administrators, teachers, and parents simply associate MySpace and FaceBook with the term social networking, possibly adding Twitter to the mix and generally writing off the technology as an unsafe liability. However, we all need to expand our view of what social networking can be.

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Many administrators, teachers, and parents simply associate MySpace and FaceBook with the term social networking, possibly adding Twitter to the mix and generally writing off the technology as an unsafe liability. However, we all need to expand our view of what social networking can be. Kid-friendly social media also doesn't need to mean Club Penguin and Webkins.

eSchoolNews put together a brief, yet useful roundup of social networking sites that can help actively engage students and teachers in learning, whether within their schools or around the world. ConnectYard, ePals, eChalk, and Saywire each provide unique tools, but all are focused on bringing the promise of social networking to the classroom without the hassle, privacy issues, and general scariness (at least from a parent's or administrator's perspective) of MySpace.

Most contain wikis, blogging, email and/or other communications tools. ePals, in particular seems to offer an especially broad set of tools. Saywire also takes an interesting approach, eschewing the anonymity that many students seek in their personal online interactions:

Saywire does not allow for nicknames or handles, and every feature or activity that a member engages in within Saywire will be stamped with their first name, grade, and photo ID. According to Saywire, this is monitoring, not filtering, and students learn that bad behavior will be noticed...

Of course, to be really successful (and safe), these tools require a high degree of teacher involvement. Kids need to see their teachers modeling appropriate use of social media tools so that they can see important applications later and keep themselves out of trouble when the call of FaceBook becomes too strong.

Topics: CXO, Collaboration, Networking, Social Enterprise

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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3 comments
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  • As if teachers don't have enough to do in the classroom.

    "Of course, to be really successful (and safe), these tools require a high degree of teacher involvement."

    Children and social networking.

    All sounds so Altruistic...but maybe the children should get out in the fresh air, and start working on face-to-face intrapersonal skills, BEFORE they get addicted to social networking.

    I?m an IT Admin in a large university, and far too many of our students are socially inept when it comes to face-to-face conversations. But they sure can work the social networking sites, and text! Now there?s a great addition to one's resume.
    ths40
  • Using the term social networking is disingenuos.

    Social networking sounds like a great cross between Miss Manners and the Elks Club. It's not. Kids that are good at socializing tend to stay that way, and those that are not remain not. In the best of circumstances it gives one an opportunity to practice self promotion. At worse it is a technological Lord of the Flies. As always with technology it's Garbage In - Garbage Out. Humans will never became better humans by using a gadget.
    bernalillo
  • RE: Yes, social networking can be kid-friendly

    I would also suggest parents and kids to check out the recently launched social network, www.HopOnThis.com. Not only is it clean, family friendly fun, but it also integrates a rewards program that allows members to win cash and prizes for their social activity on the site. And yes, it is completely free.
    LAQuinn