The Kids are Alright
The US National School Boards Association has published a report showing that the vast majority of children are using online social services and are contributing creatively to online communities.
Overall, an astonishing 96 percent of students with online access report that they have ever used any 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 sec tions of Nick.com. Eighty-one percent say they have visited a social networking Web site within the past three months and 71 percent say they use social networking tools at least weekly.
In spite of fears about online networks as a dangerous, anti-social influence, the study finds that half of school students use social sites to discuss school work.
The findings show that school students are far more creative than the majority of people online. It is sometimes postulated that the creation of online content follows a 1:10:100 rule. That for every content creator, there are ten people prepared to comment or otherwise interact with that content, and 100 more who merely consume. American school students appear to be creating content at more than ten times the normal rate:
- • More than one in ten school students say that they upload podcasts or music of their own creation at least weekly (12%).
- • More than one in five say that they have created and uploaded videos at some point (22%).
- • Nearly one in four (24%) post photos online at least once a week.
- • One in six add to blogs they’ve created at least weekly; 30 per cent of students have their own blogs.
School students are also safer than some commentators might imagine. While more than half of school district leaders (52%) say that students providing too much personal information online has been a significant problem, the students disagree. Only about one in 25 (4 per cent) say they’ve had a conversation online that made them feel uncomfortable. Three per cent say that unwelcome strangers have tried repeatedly to communicate with them. And of the two per cent who have experienced strangers attempting to meet with them offline, only 0.08 per cent have actually met someone from an online encounter without their parents’ permission.
The report recommends that schools re-examine their existing policies on social networks and seek to find ways to tap into the creativity and enthusiasm they have provoked.
The full survey is available from the NSBA site.