Benefits of social networking: Study

In what Science Daily calls a "first-of-its-kind study" of teen social-networking practices, researchers at the University of Minnesota looked low-income, 16-to-18-year-olds in 13 urban schools in the Midwest. It found that – contrary to reports of a high-income/low-income digital divide – 94% use the Internet, 82% go online at home, and 77% had social-network profiles. "When asked what they learn from using social networking sites, the students listed technology skills as the top lesson, followed by creativity, being open to new or diverse views and communication skills." They're editing and creating content, designing and laying out pages, creating "original work like poetry and film," and "practicing safe and responsible use of information and technology," the researchers said, adding that social network sites "offer tremendous educational potential." Though directed at educators, I thought this point from study author Christine Greenhow just as useful to parents: She "suggests that educators can help students realize even more benefits from their social network site use by working to deepen students' still emerging ideas about what it means to be a good digital citizen and leader online," Science Daily reports. Here's a video interview with Dr. Greenhow.

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