I'm delighted to announce that the Young People and Social Networking Services report that I have been working on for Childnet International, with the generous support of Becta, is now available from Childnet's digital literacy and citizenship site, Digizen.
It's a pretty comprehensive report, with the whole shebang available for download under a Creative Commons License on site, or from here:
and weighing in at 37 pages. The online version breaks the sections up for your viewing pleasure - so you can just dip in to the sections which are of interest or use to you. 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.
It isn't a completely introductory level document, but should be useful and informative for people who have a responsibility care towards children and young people - including governors, principals and senior management teams, Safeguarding boards and local authorities - people who are making decisions concerning educational provision and resourcing. It will also be very handy for anyone working within the sector and wanting to use internet based services with young people.
What's in the pack?
What are Social Networking Services? looks at where we are in terms of definitions, and splits services up into six main categories: Profile-based services (eg Bebo, Facebook, MySpace); Content-focused services (eg Flickr, YouTube); White-label networks (although I could have written a book about these); Multi-User Virtual Environments (although some of these aren't necessarily social networks - particularly those designed for younger children); Mobile services; and Microblogging/Presence update services (Social Search engines & Lifestream aps also get a mention as adjunct services). The version that's on the site is the short one. you can download the 9 page PDF on site or from here:
Evaluating Social Networking Services comes in two parts: an evaluation chart which has an online version and an easier-for-me-to-read downloadable version:
That's designed to be printed off big (well, A3). The services which were kind enough to take part are used as examples to help people make their own evaluations of services. Big thanks to everyone at Bebo, Facebook, Yahoo!, MySpace, Ning, Taking It Global and Google who pitched in and gave permissions. There is also a checklist guide that accompanies the chart, designed to walk you through what to look out for when evaluating services for use with young people. This covers a lot of things, including profile privacy, moderation, customisation, security and access issues, data management tools, and interoperability.
Benefits & Opportunities is a section looking at the potential positives for young people and organisations of using social networking services.
Barriers & Risks looks some of the issues preventing educators from exploring social networking services and some of the e-safety issues involved.
The Ideas and Examples returns to the different kinds of social networking services outlined in the first section and looks at what educators in the UK and around the world are doing. I'd like to continue to develop and expand this section so all suggestions are welcome - and of course you can always enter your fantastic project for this years International Edublog Awards :)
So that's it! Except to again thank the fantastic advisory board who worked on the project, keeping an eye on how the research was developing and what the final report looked like.