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Teens and children may not be wasting their time on social networking sites after all, according to a recent study from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Though young people aren’t learning the quadratic equation or the cause of the Civil War from sites like Facebook and Myspace, researchers found that they are “picking up the basic social and technical skills they need to fully participate in contemporary society,” reports news Web site DailyMe.

"It is not a waste of time for teens to hang out online," Mizuko Ito, the lead researcher for the 3-year, $3.3 million study, told the site. She said that kids are using the Internet to become "competent citizens in the digital age."

What that means, according to the study, is that kids are using the hours they spend on social networking sites to develop existing friendships, acquire technical skills, and learn Web 2.0 skills from each other. With all those benefits, parents might rethink the limitations they set on their children’s computer use in efforts to wrench them from the glare of the screen.

"It's not just about stranger danger and predators. We need to have conversations about concrete strategies and practices" to help kids set priorities when online, Ito said. "Simply banning them (from the computer) is not going to help."

3 Comments

Do you have a link to this study? I'd lik to know how "competent citizens in the digital age" was defined and which specific skills they are developing. From what I have seen, Facebook is doing a LOT more than educating students ... but I'd like to see the data.

Thanks for pointing that out, you can find a full text of the report here.

You definitely cannot and should not keep your kids away from the technological developments. Healthy use of these technologies keeps them abreast with the changing times which is as important for their development as the academic knowledge. It's the overuse of these sites that affect children. I have seen children constantly glued to Facebook and writing on each others' "walls". They start using these tools for more than just staying in touch with pals and take the anonymity feature a bit too far and do not realize that everything online is still traceable.

A colleague of mine wrote an interesting article relating to how kids are seeking math help online without their parents finding out and are exposing their parents' personal information just to get an answer to their homework problems. Not sure if hyper links are allowed in the comments section but the article can be found here- Is your child hiding something from you?.
Here's the non-hyperlink version just in case:-
http://blogs.clickandclimb.com/blogs/bid/6826/Is-your-child-hiding-something-from-you

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  • Aish Agrawal: You definitely cannot and should not keep your kids away read more
  • Jeff Lambert: Thanks for pointing that out, you can find a full read more
  • tim: Do you have a link to this study? I'd lik read more

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