Blogs and Social Networks linked to educational benefits

Everybody is into social networking nowadays, most especially teenagers. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Friendster, Multiply and more, name it and they have it. Started as a social community, today even the enterprise cannot ignore the benefits social networking brings to their businesses.

But how about personal benefits? Aside from gaining friends, are there any other benefits these social networking sites bring to its users? The answer seems to be Yes.

According to a research published by the National Literacy Trust, social networking sites and blogs may provide educational benefits for children, such as greater confidence and a more positive attitude towards writing.

Carried out by the National Literacy Trust in collaboration with ‘Everybody Writes’ (a writing project run by Booktrust and the National Literacy Trust), the first significant study of young people’s attitudes to writing in the UK finds that 49% of young people claim writing is ‘boring’. However, children that engage in technology based texts, such as blogs, enjoy writing more and have more positive attitudes towards writing – 57% express a general enjoyment of writing vs. 40% who don’t have a blog.

As well as increased enjoyment, having a blog or profile on a social networking site (SNS) is linked to greater confidence in writing ability. 61% of young people who keep a blog and 56% of those who have a profile on a SNS claim to be good or very good at writing, compared to 47% of those who don’t have either of these online writing channels.

Having a blog or a profile on a SNS is also related to writing behaviour. Pupils who are active online are significantly more likely to engage in more traditional forms of writing – for example short stories, letters, song lyrics and writing in a diary/journal – compared to those who don’t have a SNS presence.

The research finds that large numbers of young people engage with technology outside of school; 13% have their own website, 24% keep their own blog and 56% have a profile on a social networking site.

The report also identified which forms of writing were engaged with most regularly. Young people were asked which texts they wrote at least once a month and four out of the top five were technology based:

* 82% text messages
* (77% notes/answers in class/for homework)
* 73% instant messages
* 67% emails
* 63% social networking sites

In addition, the study investigated why young people who lacked writing confidence perceived themselves not to be good at writing. The reasons varied between different age groups. Lack of enjoyment was common among older pupils but more traditional problems, such as difficulty with punctuation and spelling, were cited as the main issues for children aged 7-11. Nearly one in five interviewees identified ‘not writing a lot’ as the main reason for not being a good writer.

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