Social Networks are one of the Web 2.0 tools I actually knew a little about at the start of this course--Why, you wonder? Isn't Facebook more of a teen thing? Yes indeed, I feel like a real geezer when sign into Facebook. My own personal use of Facebook has remained very limited. I've connected with a few friends who live far away, and that's kind of nice, but that is pretty much it. Oh, and I'm connected to a lot of my kids' friends and to my nieces and nephews.Sometimes I find the news feed on their activities quite jarring--- and I'm pretty sure they're not that interested in my activities, but they wouldn't find out much from my profile anyway. It is just one more thing that I don't really have time or energy to invest in---but I do see the power it holds the younger people. It really seems to help them with their search for identity, which is the main task of adolescence.
Because I live in a home that has been full of teenagers for the last 11 years. Ive been hearing and seeing little bits about Facebook and related things like Instant messaging and email for years. Because I was an at-home Mom our house was frequently the gathering place for a pack of teen-aged boys and interactivity was the word. Our basement rocked to the sounds of teens playing a multi-player video game, hooting and hollering about every heroic conquest. Anyone not playing was on the computer sending email, instant messages and eventually updating their Facebook profiles. What I noticed was the more technology involved the better----soon of all the guys had cell phones too, so texting, picture taking, bizarre ring tones--basically lots of noise---has always been connected to technology in my mind. What impressed me most was that the web of connections must be maintained at all times. The kids always know where everyone else is, and they are highly skilled in organizational planning. My teens can plan all kinds of activities through Facebook--ranging from social gatherings to carpools for soccer. I think they prefer to plan on Facebook--more efficient use of energy!
Both my sons and daughter became involved in performing at some point, and I think that comes in really handy these days because teens seem to spend so much time as the hero of their own story, documenting both everyday events and rites of passage. Facebook helps them get their experiences out there to the audience of the larger world.
By contrast, I noticed while doing my Voicethreads creation how difficult it was for me to record my voice and thoughts---I spent a lot of time rejecting the 'spontaneous me'--revising and cringing in equal measure. Put me in front of real people that I can see and make authentic connections to and I'm comfortable and stimulated by visual and auditory interactions with my audience. But me and the machine---not so much.
My kids, part of the Facebook generation, avidly share images, thoughts and tidbits of information that I would never put out to a large audience. In a strange way I think they are liberated by their lack of inhibition--and this connects to the theme I've returned to every week--there is such an ocean of info out there--who really pays attention to all this stuff? Is it really that different from the gossipping I did with my highschool friends in person and on the phone?
Of course there are some significant differences. Anyone who wants to share personal details on the web needs to be aware of safety issues-- and that kind of information literacy learning needs to begin as soon as a child starts using the computer, both at home and at school. Certainly school administrators and teachers have developed lots of ways to protect their students and the creators of the Web 2.0 applications put tremendous energy into security features, too but cyber-bullying is a real issue. I also wonder about the long term effects of inappropriate Facebook material that is perused by future employers. Time will tell, on that score.