Multidisciplinary 28 • Instructional Strategies 30 • Social Studies 32, 33 • Science 35 • English Language Arts 36
MySpace Can Be a Learning Tool
By Liz Kolb
Social networks such as MySpace, Facebook, and Xanga
have the potential to be lifelong professional tools for the 12st-
century student. We can use these
resources as classroom learning tools
to create digitally literate and safe
citizens. But rst, educators must
themselves learn how these sites—
traditionally used for entertainment—
can become an apparatus for learning
As we consider ways to use MySpace
as a learning tool, we cannot ignore the
concerns about using social networking in schools. Questionable advertising, the possibility of predators, and
parental concern are some of the issues
that need to be addressed. Here are
some ways to deal with those concerns:
Advertising. Most social networking
sites do not do a very good job of regulating advertising. Use this as an opportunity to teach older students about
advertising. For preteen students, use
sites that are advertising free such as
Disney, Imbee, or Club Penguin.
Predators. Despite media reports of
predators and cyberbullying on social
networking sites, Larry Rosen in his
book Me, MySpace and I: Parenting
the Net Generation found that only
7% of 1,500 MySpace users interviewed were ever approached by anyone with a sexual intent, and nearly
all of them simply ignored the person.
A larger issue, Rosen found, is that
too many parents are unaware of their
children’s online activities. e study
found that only about one-third of
parents had seen their child’s MySpace
site and 16% checked it. Half the parents said their children use the Internet
from an unsupervised location.
Students need to be educated about
how to set up a safe pro le, and parents
need to learn how to monitor sites.
MySpace Watch is a site that allows
parents or teachers to create an account
to monitor a child’s MySpace page.
Parental concern. Some teachers worry that parents won’t approve of their
kids being exposed to social networking too early. In this case, teachers can
set up a page for the classroom that
the teacher could maintain. Consider
holding a parent education night to
allow parents to create sites with the
help of their children.
Educators can nd a world of resources on MySpace—from engaging curriculum ideas to a wealth of research
sources for students. MySpace even
has tutorials and help pages that o er
students options for getting assistance
for academic and personal problems.
Young adult author sites. MySpace
has an index of numerous well-known
authors of teen literature who have
their own sites to connect with their
readers. Students can learn about their
favorite authors by interacting with
them on their MySpace pages.
To extend this activity, students
can create a MySpace page around
their own piece of ctional literature, inviting other students and
family to comment on their literacy
work. ey can even ask the MySpace
teen authors to add their feedback.
Students use their author’s site as a
model for a more professional social
Social Networking Safety Tips For Teens