Age, it seems, is a relative thing, even when speaking about things like social networking. Now, I don’t usually worry about my age. At 43, I have my own hair, as many of my own teeth as you would expect from playing rugby and the odd aching joint. I think I am up-to-the-minute with celebrities and the latest music; my fashion sense is, I admit, dated and yes, when I do dance, I dance like my dad. I didn't feel old until I was sent this article from the New York Times. It suggests that the largest group of Tweeters and users of social networking sites are 25 years old and live in cities. I am nowhere near either of these.
So am I too old to understand the nuances of social networking? Or am just trying to recapture my youth by jumping on the social networking bandwagon?
But seriously, this does have implications for schools? I have seen recently a number of requests from teachers asking how social networking sites can be utilised in schools. I have yet to see any responses. Does this beg the question, ‘Do social networks have a place in school?’. I certainly think there is an issue of awareness for students using such networks appropriately and there is a need to educate them on the implications of posting ‘What are you doing now?’ (There's also the issue that many teachers like myself are well past the age of 26 and may just never get it.)
What do you think? Are we way off the mark here? I would really like to get some ideas around this.
But lo and behold, the good old Daily Mail may have come to our rescue. An article published on 24 February suggests, ‘Social networking websites are causing alarming changes in the brains of young users, an eminent scientist has warned. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo are said to shorten attention spans, encourage instant gratification and make young people more self-centred.’
(Hm...it seems I shouldn’t worry. If these articles are correct, I will not have to worry about getting old at all. I will have such a short attention span, I will never remember how old I am!)
Do you agree or disagree with the Daily Mail?
Does anybody have some positive examples of how they are using social networking with young people, that they would like to share with us?
(By the way, the person who sent me the article was the ever-youthful Kristen. The youth of today have no respect for their elders.)