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University of Minnesota researchers say they have discovered educational benefits of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. The same study also found that low-income students are in many ways just as technologically savvy as their counterparts. The university says this goes against what results from previous studies have suggested. The information was collected over six months this year from students, ages 16 to 18, in 13 urban high schools in the Midwest and released Friday by the university.
I've traveled to several inner city and housing project-adjacent schools in my experience as Symantec/Norton's Internet Safety Advocate. You rarely find a kid who doesn't have some way of going online and almost all kids (starting as young as 8 or 9 years old) are signing up for Social networking pages. And even without their own page, they all visit the pages of older siblings, relatives and friends.
If the Digital Divide is going away, it's likely due to availability of hand-me down computers, free internet access in clubs, libraries and schools and attention from the media to the issue. It's a bit of good news for how we can address social issues and ensure we don't leave people out.