Thursday, January 25, 2007

Research Reports on Social Networking

"Social Networking Sites Continue to Attract Record Numbers as Myspace.Com Surpasses 50 Million U.S. Visitors in May" reports comScore Media Metrix. " reached new heights with 50 million visitors in May and nearly doubled its traffic from April, reaching 12.6 million visitors."

Although comScore Media Metrix does not report WHO the social networking users are - The Pew Internet & American Life Project attempts to answer that question...........

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a non-profit organization in the US that "produces reports that explore the impact of the Internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. The Project aims to be an authoritative source on the evolution of the Internet through collection of data and analysis of real-world developments as they affect the virtual world."

The research report called Social Networking Websites and Teens: An Overview discovered that the majority of teens surveyed (935 teens were surveyed ages 12 - 17) and more than half (55%) use online social networking sites. The interesting outcome of this report is that teens use social networking websites (like MySpace or Facebook) not to necessarily find new friends but to interact and communicate with their circle of friends they see face-to-face on a regular basis.

One of the survey questions was: "What are the different ways you use social networking sites? Do you ever use those sites to....?"

  • stay in touch with friends you see a lot - 91%
  • stay in touch with friends you rarely see in person - 82%
  • make plans with your friends - 72%
  • make new friends - 49%
  • flirt with someone - 17%

Some other statistics from the report:

  • 85% of teens who created an online profile used or updated one in MySpace
  • 77% of the teens interviewed have their profile (personal information) visible to anyone
  • 22% visited the sites several times a day and 26% visited once a day
  • older teens (in particular girls) are more likely to use social networking sites

Think children under the age of 12 are being left out - not so.......

Walt Disney Co. is picking up on this trend and has announced they will be releasing a new social networking component of their new website. Included in the new redesigned site will be opportunities for chat, video clips and social networking, similar to MySpace but with stronger parental controls in place for children.

Questions for thought......

  1. As educators why should we care what our students do in their spare time?
  2. Will this have any impact at all on how students learn or want to learn?
  3. Should social networking and all that it encompasses (ethics, etiquette, etc....) now be a part of the education curriculum?

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