University of Minnesota researchers say they have discovered educational benefits of social-networking web sites such as MySpace and Facebook, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul reports. The study also found that low-income students often are just as technologically savvy as their wealthier counterparts. The university says this contradicts results that previous studies have suggested. The information was collected over six months from students, ages 16 to 18, in 13 urban high schools in the Midwest and was released June 20 by the university. The study found that 94 percent of students use the internet, and more than three-fourths (77 percent) have a profile on a social-networking web site. When asked what they learn from using social-networking sites, the students listed technology skills at the top, then creativity, being open to new or diverse views, and communication skills. "Students using social-networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st-century skills we want them to develop to be successful today," said Christine Greenhow, a learning technologies researcher in the university’s College of Education and Human Development and lead investigator. "Students are developing a positive attitude towards using technology systems, editing and customizing content, and thinking about online design and layout. … The web sites offer tremendous educational potential."

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