According to a recent study by the University of Minnesota, the use of social networking sites is narrowing the technological divide between low- and high-income kids in that they are all learning vital computer, communication and socialization skills while using these networks.
What we found was that students using social networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st century skills we want them to develop to be successful today,” said Christine Greenhow, a learning technologies researcher in the university’s College of Education and Human Development and principal investigator of the study.
While using just about any site – not just social networking sites – would give kids the same sort of “21st century skills”, the question is, would they want to use them like they do MySpace and Facebook? Plus, you have the possibility for creative expression with these sites that encourage user-created content – something that doing research on the computer or learning typing skills on the computer will do. And schools still block these sites…
A better response would be to reinforce the lessons these kids are learning on these sites.
“Now that we know what skills students are learning and what experiences they’re being exposed to, we can help foster and extend those skills,” said Greenhow.
Greenhow suggests that educators can help students realize even more benefits from their social network site use by working to deepen students’ still emerging ideas about what it means to be a good digital citizen and leader online.
So – let’s stop blocking and start teaching!!