There is an article in eSchoolNews today about “safe” social networking that spends a lot of time looking at the usual concerns expressed about kids in schools using these sorts fo environments…

Amid rising concerns over popular social networking sites, a new crop of “safe” sites is currently emerging. These “safe” sites hope to limit the dangers associate with other sties, such as talking to predators and revealing too much personal information. In addition, these safer sites aim to develop in users a proper online skill set–one that incorporates elements of online safety as well as proper behavior in virtual communities.

Let’s consider though that a good number of kids will also be using the places that schools try to block. MySpace, all manner of instant message systems, Flickr, etc are often seen as the enemy by school teachers and administrators.

So along comes Whyville, a homogenised “safe” site for kids to play. But I wonder how these sites are helping in the education of kids about “safety” on the internet.

Yes, kids will have to learn appropriate protocols for social networking, and yes, there may be “predators” (who seem to have a better understanding of how to use the environments than many)… if we are looking at the numbers, sexual predation is probably far less of a concern than other issues such as identity theft.

Schools are but one site where students will learn about the internet and its associated risks. They will also continue to use regular commercial sites at home and other locations, especially as mobile internet access becomes more prevalent.

…. still getting to my point….

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