Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Are Online Social Networks Good For Kids?

After the many explosive stories in the press about online safety and MySpace etc. it might seem crazy to suggest that kids and social networks might be a good thing. However, Susan Lacy has an interesting post on TechCrunch regarding kids and social networking that is worth a read.

Apparently, Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln College, Oxford and the director of the Royal Institution "has the United Kingdom up in a tizzy about the idea that Facebook, Bebo and Twitter are warping their children’s minds". However, Susan does point out "like a lot of people who don’t actually use these sites, she’s [Greenfield] missing a fundamental shift from Web 1.0 chat room days to Web 2.0 social networks: Real identity".

Something about that response caught my interest. Although my own son is not at all interested in social networking sites per se, he is very interested in the online relationships that he has in his preferred gaming sites. I was interested to discover recently that many of his online friends are from real life. Since he goes to a school on the other side of town, and many of his school friends also have to travel, there are few other ways we really have for them to interact during non-school hours. They have apparently discovered a couple of online games in which they like to play together.

I asked him wouldn't he prefer to get together with them in person. He said he would, but "everyone's parents are too busy and they live too far." There are some interesting twists to this modern life... and kids are adapting.

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