California Watch recently reported on new research from Professor Christine Greenhow at the University of Maryland that proves spending time on social networking sites like Facebook actually helps kids in school. The study found that through connecting with schoolmates on social networking sites, students build important relationships, and when they feel connected to their classmates, students do better in school. Social media helps students engage with each other, provides accessible platforms for social sharing and fosters collaborative learning. This study is just one of many that repeatedly show the power of integrating social media into education.

The study surveyed about 600 low-income high school students and concluded that in addition to strengthening relationships, some students used social networking to solicit tips about college and career options. Additionally, students’ creativity and technical skills were improved through the use of social media websites.

While there are certainly concerns about students using social media in the classroom – such as cyberbullying, harassment, and distraction – the positive aspects continually highlighted in studies cannot be ignored. Many sites have procedures to address privacy and safety concerns, and Facebook has even published a guide for educators on how to use the social network to enhance learning, as well as safety tips for parents.

The Digital Divide Leaves Students Behind

Last year, the U.S. Department of Education released its National Education Technology Plan, which included a proposal to use social networking as a platform for learning. The plan urges educators to utilize modern technology to not only engage students, but also because this technology will be vital to their lives and futures.

Once again, these studies reinforce the need to close the digital divide and guarantee that every San Franciscan and student has equal access to the Internet. We simply can’t tolerate a new divide – between the Digital Haves and the Analog Have Nots. We know the power social media tools have in our daily lives and in education. That’s why Reset is pushing so strongly for Guaranteed Access to the Internet for all San Franciscans.