In the last week, I've been attacked by several vampires and joined the Jedi in the fight
against the Sith. I have a zombie and a pirate army, but I don't pay much attention to them. I go caroling as a Snooper Elf, and I'm a member of Gryffindor. I even have a South Park character who dresses far cooler than I actually do.
The Technology Toolkit column in the December 2007 issue of Voices from the Middle focuses on “The MySpace Culture.” Column editor Sandy Hayes explains that Grunwald Associates research found that “71% of tweens and teens between the ages of 9 and 17 visit social networking sites weekly” (59). What do they do when they visit these sites? They communicate and interact with the people they know.
Its not just teens visiting these sites however. Hayes explains:
As MySpace itself has matured, it now features adult content in a different sense. More than half of MySpace visitors now are age 35 or older. Some libraries have even created MySpace pages (www.myspace.com/hennepincountylibrary) where teens can literally become friends of the library. And as the ultimate signal of cultural acceptance, most of the 2008 Presidential candidates currently have MySpace pages, including, in August 2007, friend lists of up to 164,500. (60)Teachers number among these adult users of social networking sites as well. Much like the tweens and teens in the Grunwald study, the pre-service, early career, and experienced teachers I see on these sites use them to connect with colleagues near and far, in both serious and silly ways.
I know. The media would have you believe that teachers only go to social networking sites to keep an eye on students. But the truth is that my colleagues and I go to these sites to connect and have fun. Sure, we discuss teaching issues on discussion lists like TechRhet and WPA-L, but we also update each other on our grading, writing, and personal activities on Facebook.
Just like the teens on these sites, we build community as we support and mentor each other. And just as importantly, we learn more about how these sites work so that we can use and discuss social networking in the classroom. If youre interested in learning more, consider joining the NCTE groups on Ning, MySpace, or Facebook. And friend me— I may even poke you in return. My username is tengrrl on Ning and MySpace, and Im Traci Gardner on Facebook.