I recently came across the Young People and Social Networking Services report published earlier this year by the Childnet International. The report was written from a UK schools and Further Education perspective, although much of the information will be useful to people working outside of these two contexts. The report is informative and provides useful information concerning social networking services with young people. The report contains the following main sections:
1. What are social networking services? This section examines the definitions of social networking services. Also, it provides a comprehensive review of six main categories of current social networking services: Profile-based services (e.g., Bebo, Facebook, MySpace), Content-focused services (e.g., Flickr, YouTube), White-label networks (e.g., FPeopleAggregator, Ning), Multi-User Virtual Environments (e.g., Second Life, World of Warcraft), Mobile services (e.g., Twitter), and Microblogging/Presence update services (e.g., Jaiku, Twitter).
2. Evaluating Social Networking Services. This section describes how to use a social networking evaluation chart and covers many significant relevant issues including profile privacy, moderation, customization, security and access issues, data management tools, and interoperability.
3. Benefits & Opportunities. This section evaluates the potential positives for young people and organizations of using social networking services.
4. Barriers & Risks. This section examines issues preventing educators from exploring social networking services as well as some of the e-safety issues involved.
5. Ideas and Examples. The section showcases innovative practice, and provides examples where social networking services have been successfully used in education.
The complete report is available to download and redistribute under a Creative Commons license from Childnet’s digital literacy and citizenship site, Digizen, at http://www.digizen.org/downloads/fullReport.pdf.