After all the scary talk about social networking websites and student safety today, I've been wondering how vital it is for primary-aged students to be using any of these sites. I guess I'm just struggling to find things to do that could involve using social networking websites, except perhaps using a networking group page as a class hub. This appeals to me, however I think better ideas would be to use a Wiki, a blog or a walled garden to meet these purposes (my personal preference would be a wiki). A school network would be an interesting idea, where students, staff and parents could all interact in a single hub; however then there are age restrictions to overcome for the main providers of these kinds of services. Something I've just come across is Schools United, which seems like a social networking site designed to link schools across the globe, a kind of penpal system, although it looks like it hasn't been updated since 2008 suggesting it has fallen to the almighty Facebook Empire.
I remember using Neopets when I was in primary school and it was a fun, interesting experience but it didn't have all that much educational value, nor did it add much to me socially. By bringing social networking sites into the school, I fear that they'll be used as a "oh, you've finished your work, OK you can go onto such-and-such website", which undermines the idea of normalising technology in schools. I agree that there is some value in social networking sites in actual (or metaphysical?) social interaction and networking (especially in the teenage years, when some confrontations might be better behind a monitor), but I believe at primary level face-to-face interactions are far more important if we are looking at the bigger picture of moulding socially capable, intelligent and responsible human beings - we can't downplay reality, for all its ugliness.
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