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Young People and Social Networking Services

The project is designed to investigate how social networking services can and are being used to support personalised formal and informal learning by young people in schools and colleges.

The work opens by asking “What are social networking services?” This section investigates current definitions of social networking services and provides a comprehensive review of current social networking service types and activities.

In Evaluating social networking services, this report then describes how to use a toolkit – a social networking evaluation chart covering six different social networking services, and an accompanying checklist, which are available to download from the Digizen website to evaluate services. The chart is not definitive, but provides a comprehensive framework covering significant relevant issues such as site age restrictions, the presence of adverts, collaborative tools, security issues and data management restrictions.

Benefits and opportunities evaluates the potential educational benefits to individual users, as well as outlining some of the opportunities that educators and schools using social networking services might take advantage of. This section looks at issues around digital literacy and social engagement, skills and identity development, and opportunities for better understanding e-safety and data management issues.

Barriers and risks looks at current barriers to using social networking services within education, including staff development and support issues, and risk evaluation and management approaches. Risk areas that educators should be aware of are outlined, and approaches to manage these are addressed. Issues include users’ perceptions of the environment they are posting in, personal data management, and cyberbullying and potentially illegal behaviours.

Ideas and examples showcases innovative practice, providing links to a range of projects and examples where social networking services have been successfully used to support both teachers and students. Links to current debates around specific services are also included.

Logo: Becta.

Finally, the Glossary describes some terms that readers may be unfamiliar with.

Sections of the report