How useful is online social networking in Education?
Online social networking is now so deeply embedded in the lifestyles of teens that it rivals television for their attention, according to a new study from Grunwald Associates LLC, conducted in cooperation with the US National School Boards Association.
Nine- to-17-year-olds now spend almost as much time using social networking services and web sites as they spend watching television, the study revealed. Among teens, that amounts to about nine hours a week on social networking activities, compared to about 10 hours a week watching TV.
Students are hardly passive couch potatoes online. Beyond basic communications, many students engage in highly creative activities on social networking sites – and a sizeable proportion of them are adventurous nonconformists who set the pace for their peers.
Overall, an astonishing 96 per cent of students with online access report that they have used social networking technologies, such as chatting, text messaging, blogging and visiting online communities, such as Facebook, MySpace, and services designed specifically for younger children, such as Webkins and the chat sections of Nick.com.
Eighty-one per cent said they had visited a social networking website over the past three months and 71 per cent said they had used social networking tools at least one a week.
Furthermore, students reported that one of the most common topics of conversation on the social networking scene is education. Almost 60 per cent of students who use social networking talk about education topics online and, surprisingly, more than 50 per cent talk specifically about schoolwork.
Yet the vast majority of school districts have stringent rules against nearly all forms of social networking during the school day – even though students and parents report few problem behaviour online. Indeed, both district leaders and parents believe that social networking could play a positive role in students’ lives and they recognise opportunities for using it in education – at a time when teachers now routinely assign homework that requires Internet use to complete. In light of the study findings, school districts may want to consider re-examining their policies and practices and explore ways in which they could use social networking for educational purposes.
The study was comprised of three surveys: an online survey of 1,277 nine-to-17-year-old students, an online survey of 1,039 parents and telephone interviews with 250 school district leaders who make decisions on Internet policy. Grunwald Associates LLC, an independent research and consulting firm formulated and directed the study. Download the report