Effects Of Social Networking Sites Essay

3436 words - 14 pages

As the world moves into the second decade of the 21 st century, one of the major markers of this era is the rise and use of online communities. In particular, a paradigm called Web 2.0 describes recent technologies that focus on networking mass numbers of individuals into distinct communities over the Internet (O’Reilly, 2007). Social networking sites (SNS) are online communities designed to connect individuals to wider networks of relationships, and are one major example of Web 2.0 applications. Sites such as Facebook have exploded in membership. In a short period of 2007 – 2010, Facebook estimates that its membership has grown from 50 million to over 400 million users (Facebook, n.d.). ...view middle of the document...

High school completion rates are difficult to measure, but various independent studies also suggest that nearly one-third of students ultimately drop out of school (Barton, 2005). When one compares these competing aspects of teenage life – technology versus education – a simple strategy clearly emerges. Perhaps if educators begin to integrate social technologies into learning, they will increase student engagement and achievement in school. Heeding the call of scholars (i.e. Jenkins, 2006; Ito et al. n.d.) recent policy and research efforts are now racing to develop new social media platforms and technologies for learning. For example, the Federal Department of Education and organizations such as the MacArthur Foundation have invested millions of dollars to build social media platforms, video games, and other digital tools for learning (Whitehouse, n.d.). Despite the optimism that social media tools might improve student engagement and learning, the stark reality is that these new technologies often conflict with the practices of K-12 schools. Surveys find that the vast majority of school district leaders believe social technology can improve student learning. However, these same district administrators typically block student access to online resources like social network sites (Lemke & Coughlin, 2009). The decision to ban students from accessing social network sites underscores a major conundrum for educators. Online social networks widen a students’ access to resources and social support and may have beneficial effects on their development. Conversely, as student access to the world widens they are inevitably exposed to potentially negative material and interactions. The simplest strategy to limit liability and safeguard school districts is to ban access to these new digital tools. However, such policies neglect the potentially large benefits of using social media in the classroom. To alleviate this dilemma, educators and policymakers need a deeper understanding of social media and youth. Several questions are critical in the area of youth learning with social technologies, including: • Which youth are using particular social technologies? • How do they use these technologies to communicate, develop relationships, socialize, and learn? • What are the effects of these technologies on youth development? • What are the effects of these technologies when applied in educational contexts such as the classroom? In this dissertation, I explore these questions by examining a particular technology: the social network site. Communities such as Facebook and MySpace mediate teenage life, affecting how youth communicate and learn from one another. In addition, social networks are intertwined into just about every major online community today (Livingstone, 2008). These factors make SNS a particularly salient focus for evaluation. Throughout the following chapters I examine different questions surrounding the phenomena of social network sites and teenage...

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