Hey parents, I hope you've got your thinking caps on - this is going to be a big lesson!

This week we're talking about social networks. You've heard the terms before, "friending," "adding," and "posting on your wall." We are going to start with the basics and the first thing we want to do, is understand exactly what social networks are. Watch this short video to get an idea of what they are and how they work:


Kids and teens have always (and will always) explore their identity. It is part of growing up. Technology now allows kids to explore their identity in a whole new way - increasingly through online social networks. They play with their visual identity through photos and avatars, they negotiate friendships in both physical and virtual worlds, and their online social networks are important to their social status. Some of your kids may already be on these social networks and many will be in the near future. Generally, MySpace and Facebook are the two most popular social networks out there, but we'll focus on Facebook for the first part of this lesson followed by more online communities centered around specific area of interest & styles. 

facebook logoFacebook has more than 400 million active users.  The average user has 130 friends, sends 8 friend requests per month, and spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook. That is a LOT of people and a LOT of time. Facebook can now be accessed though mobile devices and statistics show that people who use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice more active on Facebook than non-mobile users. Who is on their phone all the time? Chances are, your teenager is. Is your teen on facebook? It is clearly a powerful tool, but there are lots of horror stories out there. How can you feel safe about your child engaging in this online network? That's easy - learn about it and engage in it yourself!

Facebook claims that it provides users with tools to control the information they share and with whom they choose to share it. They also say members have the ability to share and restrict information based on specific friends or friend lists.  However, under Facebook Policies they disclaimed that all the content posted by any Facebook user is legally own by Facebook.  Here is a video that explains some of these settings, limitations and how to help you and your family be safe while social networking! If you don’t have Facebook and would like to register, this is a short video showing you how.

On the surface, this general social network is connecting *millions* of people every day, but it can also be a great tool for students to use. It presents students with choices about using technology in new and creative ways. For a biography research assignment, perhaps your child could create a facebook page for their historical figure. Even as a purely social activitiy, it is an opportunity for students to be learning about digital citizenship, which is becoming increasingly important.

Facebook Resources for Parents:

7 Things You Should Know About Facebook (pdf)

Facebookforparents.org (sign up for their free newsletter published 3 times each year)

Facebook for Parents on Common Sense Media

How to: Keep Your Facebook Updates Private

Protecting Reputations Online

Social Networks and Kids; how young is too young?


Now, here is where it gets fun! 2 tween girls working on computer

MySpace and Facebook aren't the only social network by any means! There are social networks centered around subjects of interests and appear inmany different ways. What is the important part of idenitfying a social networking site is if it provides you the ability to 'friend' others and share! 

For Kids - Club Penguin, Habbo Hotel, Webkinz, Whyville

Job/Career - LinkedIn is the most popular site for professional networking (sharing your resume, finding other professionals in your field, etc.). Here is some info about LinkedIn, how people use it and why it works.

Music - Pandora, blip.fm, last.fm

Photos - Flickr (you all studied this in Week 8)

Twitter is enomously popular with adults, but studies are showing that teens and kids are not being drawn to this wildly successful social site in the same way that adults are. Twitter is easy to use and more and more people and businesses are using it. Did you know Darien Library is on twitter along with other local groups like AllAboutDarien, FairfieldCountyChild, Darien News, Darien Toy Box and even some local moms!

Videos - YouTube was discussed in Week 9

Thing 15: Join at least one online social network and add a few friends to your network.

It doesn't have to be Facebook, but click here for step-by-step instructions on setting up a new account. Watch this video on privacy settings or read this article about personalizing your settings.

Thing 16: Write a blog post about your experience.

  • What Online Community did you choose? What do you like most about it?
  • How have you used this Community? How do you see yourself using it in the future?
  • Are your kids using social networks? Have you talked with them about online identities?
Thanks to Flickr user kjarrett for the photo available to use with a Creative Commons license!


In facebook I hear about

In facebook I hear about people using this social network in a dual manner. One platform for social networking and one for professional contacts. Doesn't this become more for us to manage? www.thriftshopthursdays.com