Membership into these sites are free and anyone can become a member by setting up an account. SNS can be open to all other members of the site or they can be accessed by invitation only if the user so desires.
Social Networking in Plain English on the Commoncraft show, clearly explains the basics of SNS and why they are so popular. View this video clip here.
A January 2007 survey by the Pew Charitable Trust found 55% of all online youths ages 12-17 have profiles on Social Networking Sites, with 48% visiting them at least once a day. A recent survey by Grunwald Associates found 71% of tweens and teens between the ages of 9 and 17 visit SNS weekly. In the Pew survey, 91% of all social networking teens say they use the sites to stay in touch with friends they see frequently and 82% say they use the sites to stay in touch with friends they rarely see in person. While 70% of older girls have used SNS compared with 54% of older boys, the boys 60% are more likely than girls 46% to use the sites to make new friends. Interesting statistics coming out of the U.S. and I wonder if the statistics in Canada would be similar.
The younger generation are not the only ones accessing Social Networking Sites. Some of these sites are attracting an older audience like ourselves. (I mean that in the most delicate way, ie 'mature' audience!) Keeping in contact with colleagues, friends, and business associates and searching for former high school or university friends are some of the reasons that we are on social networking sites.
According to Kristina Woolsey (Nailing Digital Jelly to a Virtual Tree, Learning & Leading with Technology Dec/Jan 2007-08 36(4)) found in our course readings:
Social networking Websites have taken society by storm and created
quite a stir, a good stir, a negative stir, and a questioning stir. The
important things currently are the implementing of Internet safety,
the distribution of awareness, the differentiation between the benefits
and drawbacks, and the harnessing of its potential in all areas of life.
It is hoped that this blog will address many of this issues and concerns of Social Networking Sites and provide a clearer understanding of this Web 2.0 tool.