Children flock to social networks…

BBC reports on how more than 25% of children between eight and eleven actively use social networking websites.

More than a quarter of eight to 11-year-olds in the UK have a profile on a social network, research shows.

Most sites, such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook, set a minimum age of between 13 and 14 to create a profile but none actively enforce the age limit.

Ofcom’s survey of 5,000 adults and 3,000 children found 49% of those aged between eight and 17 have a profile.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of this, by the time these children come to College or onto University, they will have been using and immersed into the world of social networking – unlikely I expect that they will be using Facebook or Bebo as who remembers Friendster?

However that they will be use to the concept of communicating socially online. I would also expect that they will also start to use these environments for working together on learning activities as well.

Obviously there are issues with putting personal and embarrassing information online as institutions and employers also have access to these sites and Google, but it would be a shame to focus on the negative aspects of these sites and forget the potential that these places have for learners to interact and engage with each other – in the same way they already do engage collaboratively for learning in the physical social areas within our institutions.

As I write this I am sitting in the cafe area of my college and there are learners here drinking coffee and talking, I know some are talking about non-learning stuff, but there are others who are talking and discussing what they just did or what they need to do.

We provide physical social environments for our learners to socialise and engage with each other, is it too much to ask to provide access to similar social environments which are online?

Originally written for e-Learning Stuff.