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SCHOOL-IT  April 2007

SCHOOL-IT April 2007

Subject:

Re: Pew Internet Study: Social Networks Confusing the News?

From:

Stephen Barner <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

School Information Technology Discussion <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 24 Apr 2007 07:43:23 -0400

Content-Type:

multipart/mixed

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (65 lines) , teen-party.gif (65 lines)

I was taken by the last sentence in this article, "Though high schoolers and frequent users of social media sites may be able to tell the difference between truth and exaggeration on the internet, can reporters and other external audiences make the same judgment?" The implication appears to be that the savvy "digital natives" are intrinsically better able to discern truth from the noise surrounding important breaking events; overcoming the training and experience of seasoned reporters. This leap of logic seems to be typical of the smug assumptions of the proponents of the idea that young people raised in the digital age are, in some mysterious manner, hardwired differently than previous generations. Let's look at life in school, though. Have you made the same observation as I that it seems that rumors travel across a school faster than the speed of sound? I'm exaggerating, of course, and this is not exclusive to students, but it seems that news is passed at lightning speed in a school and almost always becomes altered and sensationalized in the process. Are we to believe that the exposure to digital media has somehow countered this tendency of young people to exaggerate, or is it more likely to exacerbate it? Will truth bubble up when students use cell phones, email and social networking sites to "report" about breaking events, or it more likely that a whirlwind of misinformation will arise?
 
The idea that young people raised in an increasingly multitasking and connected world develop different communication and learning skills bears study, but most of what I have heard promoted as fact from the podiums of educational conferences fails in any measure of scientific study. It sounds much more like popular assumptions and leaps of logic than of unbiased observation. This is very important for those of us in education who think that it might just be reasonable to expect a student to put his MP3 player away and turn off the cell phone during class as a means of improving learning by removing distractions.
 
*************************
Stephen Barner
South Burlington High School
550 Dorset Street
South Burlington, VT 05403
(802) 652-7015
(802) 652-7013 (Fax)
http://sbhs.sbschools.net <https://mail.sbschools.net/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://sbhs.sbschools.net> 
http://vtacad.net <https://mail.sbschools.net/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://vtacad.net> 
[log in to unmask]
---
 
"When we study music, we practice... because there is no other way to become a musician. Neither can we become engineers by just studying a textbook, because practical experience is needed to correlate the so-called theory with practice." Charles Franklin Kettering

________________________________

From: School Information Technology Discussion on behalf of Steve Cavrak
Sent: Fri 4/20/2007 8:37 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [({Spam?})] Pew Internet Study: Social Networks Confusing the News?


Pew Internet Study: Social Networks Confusing the News?
posted @ 12:31 by Kate Zimmermann
http://searchviews.com/archives/2007/04/pew_internet_study_on_teens.php


 <https://mail.sbschools.net/exchange/sbarner/Drafts/teen-party.gif> 


The Pew Internet & American Life Project has a new study out on how teens manage personal information (PDF) in social networks. The study suggests that teens treat online privacy with only some concern - most teens do not post cell phone numbers or addresses to personal profiles, but candidly share details about interests and activities. Furthermore, "Most teen profile creators suspect that a motivated person could eventually identify them. They also think strangers are more likely to contact teens online than offline." In other words, teens acknowledge the risk associated with posting private information, but share it anyway. One in three teens say that they have been contacted online by strangers. One in five of those contacted admit that they've "engaged an online stranger to find out more information about that person (that translates to 7% of all online teens)," and another one in five contacted "say they felt scared or uncomfortable because of the online encounter" (again, 7% of all online teens).

Interestingly, younger teens are more likely to post fake information, while older teens are more likely to share photos, school names, and other personal content. Teens across the board report a tendency to lie or exaggerate on profiles for the sake of creating more entertaining content. The study quotes one high schooler,
"'Sometimes people tell about doing drugs, drinking, partying that you wouldn't expect from them but it's hard to tell if they do these things a lot or a little because they can't provide a good explanationmost of the time I think it's exaggeration, not usually a blatant lie but I have no way of judging if I don't know them well.

Teens seem to counterbalance the risk of maintaining a personal profile (namely, being contacted by a stranger) by posting false information. Perhaps because they consider the ubiquity of personal content online to be an inevitable side effect of internet use, teens don't attempt to erase revealing information so much as they deliberately confuse it.

This certainly has implications for the increasing involvement of social networks in the professional media. During the VA Tech shooting, mainstream media sources visibly used people's reports in social networks to feed the developing story. Today, MySpace announced the addition of a news feed to rival Digg and Google News. As the professional news media moves further into social networks, will it become more difficult to assess truth from exaggeration? In a post today, Jeff Jarvis writes,
"The essential infrastructure of news and media has changed forever: There is no control point anymore. When anyone and everyone witnesses, criminals, victims, commenters, officials, and journalists can publish and broadcast as events happen, there is no longer any guarantee that news and society itself can be filtered, packaged, edited, sanitized, polished, secured.

As one high schooler told the PEW, "Nothing really surprises me because you can find all kinds of people online. Though high schoolers and frequent users of social media sites may be able to tell the difference between truth and exaggeration on the internet, can reporters and other external audiences make the same judgment?


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