Young People and Social Networking Services


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:

Download fullReport.pdf

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:

Download social-networking-overview.pdf

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:

Download Sns.pdf

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.



19 thoughts on “Young People and Social Networking Services

  1. Hey Josie
    This is an absolutely great addition to the growing knowledge and resource bank on social networking and education / young people.
    I’ll share it with our partners on the Youth Work and Social Networking project…
    The comparison table is particularly handy 🙂

  2. Thanks Tim! Please do pass it along – it took a great deal of hard work, discussion & a lot of negotiation to get to the table, and I’d like to see as many people as possible benefit! The evaluation chart will probably date pretty quickly, but the framework should hit all the major points that need reviewing when thinking about using services.

  3. Yes! I’m really looking forward to taking a look. Thanks for your hard work, Josie. These will come in so useful to my everyday work!
    All the best!

  4. Hi Alec, Jo, Rose & Emma & thanks for the nice words, I’m always happy to get those 🙂 Hope you enjoy the report and find interesting and useful stuff in there.

  5. Thanks for this Josie. I’m about to look at developing a Social Media Strategy for the youth service and this will give us a lot of information.

  6. This is a fantastic chunk of research. Well done and very comprehensive. I also found it to have a well balanced POV.
    Good work Josie!

  7. The problem I have is that pedophiles clocked as a factor of overseas policing can’t be dealt with until SOCA- CEOP decide it is ok, that it is without politics. Or it isn’t a Daily Mail front page.
    The result is, that British pedophiles are running considerably wild. We can only insist on a zapping if they victimize one of our kids, if they don’t do that, it ould be a freebie.
    There are British pedophile comunity sites still up that were requested to be dealt with from 2006. A lot of British child pornography is generated by proxy. Schoolkids produce it to order.

  8. Hi Tazia, your raise interesting issues about school kids generating child abuse images. Of course, many young people are not aware that in the UK that it is illegal to produce, circulate, possess or distribute indecent or sexual images of children (defined as people under the age of 18), even if the images they are creating are of themselves. This is just one of the many reasons its important that young people understand their online rights and responsibilities.
    The report is doing well and received some great coverage:
    I was invited to do a guest piece for ZDNet:
    It’s also been covered by the National press including The Guardian:
    & The Telegraph:

  9. Hello Josie, I have been browsing your report and have found it as an excellent resource for teachers to start learning the benefits and disadvantages of social networks. Grasping and setting the base for them to start leveraging this new media outlet, that the younger generation is so “hooked” on.
    I would like to offer to translate your report into Spanish. Because I think it will benefit the Spanish speaking community and spark an interest in the education sector of our society.
    I hope that this helps in one way or another close the digital divide.
    Congratulations on a great piece of work.

  10. Thank you Claudio for your kind comments and for your wonderful offer! I’m out of town for a few days but I will certainly be following it up with you next week. I think it’s a fantastic idea. Talk soon 🙂

  11. hi there Josie,
    I really appreciate the information that you have mention here, esp. the comparison you’ve made. As a newbie to seo and dad for my kid, social networking morphed the mainstream medium for teens and adults.

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