Many schools have blocked access to MySpace and Facebook from school computers since the rise of these social networks in recent years.
But earlier this year, the National School Boards Association (NSBA), which represents the nation's 95,000 local school boards, issued a study recommending that members ease their restrictions on in-school use of social networks and consider how they might be better used in the classroom. It cited study findings that showed kids were highly engaged with online tools like blogs and wikis.
It's unclear whether any schools changed their course, but the nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) slammed the NSBA on Friday, alleging that it published a study that was inherently biased. The study, it said, was funded by Microsoft, News Corp., and Verizon Communications--major companies with vested interests in social networks. Microsoft has a financial stake in Facebook, and News Corp. owns MySpace, for example.
The CCFC argued that the push for social networking in schools is an effort to encourage kids' exposure to ads. Brands like Marlboro, Burger King, and Captain Morgan have pages on MySpace so that kids can befriend their virtual characters, for example.
"Local educators need objective, honest information 'not marketing hype' to guide their efforts toward helping students grapple with the current unprecedented convergence of sophisticated, ubiquitous media technology and unfettered commercialism." CCFC's Director Susan Linn said in a statement.