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OMG, You Mean I Can't Facebook at Work?

We know that teenagers love their online social networking. But a new poll hints that a fair number of them might turn down jobs that don't let them have such access at work.

This year's Junior Achievement/Deloitte Teen Ethics Survey, released today, finds that 58 percent of the responding teenagers would "consider" restrictions on their access to sites such as Facebook when weighing a job offer.

While Facebook and its counterparts are gaining more ground with those a bit more ancient than teenagers, they're lifeblood to adolescents. Eighty-eight percent of the teens in the Junior Achievement/Deloitte survey said they use social networks daily, with seven in 10 spending an hour or more a day on them.

The survey was aimed at exploring ethical questions raised by young people's use of social networks at work. (Goodness knows adults have their lapses in this area, as well. But this survey looks only at teens.) And it seems to point up the need for a bit of education to guide young people in their use of social networking in the workplace. Most say they feel confident that they can make ethical decisions about online social networking at work, but they also say they don't think much about the effect of their postings on potentially important people such as future employers.

There were some promising things in the survey, too. Large shares of teenagers said they used social networking to help others or encourage support of causes important to them. (I'm assuming here that they don't mean organizing their friends to skip school on a particularly sunny day or other less-productive pursuits.)

But the fact that so many teenagers would consider their access to Facebook a key ingredient of getting a job is itself cause for reflection. In writing about middle and high school, I've often had educators tell me that students need more real-world applications for their learning. A reality check on what real-world jobs require could be in order.

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