Frequently Asked Questions

What is social networking?

Social networking is a new type of communication that has spread worldwide. Social networking consists of sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, blogs, wikis, podcasting and instant messaging.

These are mainly web-based as they provide a collection of ways to communicate. Social networking and cyber bullying are closely linked; this is made possible because of the easy access to social networking sites. It continues to be a “cool new tool,” and young people world wide stay connected with networking software, with its capacity to support peer interaction and friendship, combined with its potential for connectivity and friendship building, and its psychological power.

The younger generation is more techno savvy to the web 2.0, this has caused a “Digital Divide” between generations, which makes dealing with the problem of cyber bullying more intricate.

How has social networking transformed communications?

“Social networking has transformed the way we communicate and share information with one another in today’s society. Social networking uses software to build online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities”.

Social networking is a chance of interacting with a broader audience, and with this a bully has a higher chance of humiliating the victim(s). However social networking can be beneficial, schools can use social networking sites for communication amongst employees or it could be used for creating a sense of community.

Students and teachers could have a site and “friend” other users; this could be used as a way of students meeting other students. As a whole school approach the teachers and staff would have the authorization to remove any bad or off behavior on a site, to monitor and identify potential risks to the students. It also would be used for teachers to communicate and express ideas to other teachers and staff.

How can I be safe in social networking?

A central dilemma that schools need to address in a consideration of e-safety is how they can support children to engage in productive and creative social learning through Web technologies while protecting them from undue harm. The web is a very valuable tool that can assist in educating, learning, teaching and broadening minds. The web has so much useful information out there, however it can be too easy to access.

“Children are empowered by Web 2.0 technologies to copy, share and paste materials in ways that may be seen as cheating within the school system of teaching and assessment, even if the children do not regard their activity as such”.

This means that children have easy access to information and accept anything that has been presented in front of them. Many adults and teachers fear the Internet for fear of their children or students in the unknown, but what is needed is education in the correct etiquette when using the Internet.

Parents’ fear of other adults on the web as they can assume false identities online, pose as young people and hide behind a cloak of anonymity. They also fear of inappropriate content on the web such as advertising, portrayals of violence and pornography on websites that children can access so easily.

What are problems associated with social networking?

At present, schools are caught between the rock of parental fears about Internet abuse and the hard place of helping children to develop responsible and creative use of Web 2.0 for learning.

On their own, schools will find it difficult to develop a policy for appropriate use of Web 2.0 to support children’s learning and skills development.

Many ideas of minimizing the problems involving the web have been to stop any technologies used at schools or to restrict them, however this is wrong as technologies will continue to evolve into more interactive, mobile and ubiquitous applications, so it is pointless for schools to restrict access to social computing tools that are part of the digital world of youth and are an essential part of the development of social and digital literacy skills.