A new study says schools should rethink rules preventing students from using social networking Web sites and instead consider employing the sites as educational tools. The National School Boards Association released a reportthis week concluding that accounts of cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and unwelcome encounters through the Internet are more limited than is commonly assumed and that students often use social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook for educational purposes. The study, sponsored in part by MySpace owner News Corp., Microsoft, and Verizon, suggests that school districts explore ways to integrate social networking sites into schoolwork.
Of the 1,200 students surveyed, 96 percent with Internet access said they use social networking programs. More than half of those students said they used social networking sites to discuss education topics and schoolwork. Although 52 percent of school districts prohibit accessing social networking sites during the school day, many students and educators use them to converse with peers or complete collaborative projects, according to the NSBA study.
Nearly half of the 250 district leaders surveyed said they saw the positive aspects of social networking sites, but were skeptical about their educational prospects. “Many schools initially banned or restricted Internet use, only to ease up when the educational value of the Internet became clear,” The study notes. “The same is likely to be the case with social networking,”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.