Schoolchildren log onto Facebook during lessons

Schoolchildren log onto Facebook during lessons

UK classrooms are rife with sneaky social networking site visits, according to research by VAR GSS

Schoolchildren are spending lesson time logging onto Facebook and other social networking sites, research from security consultancy Global Secure Systems (GSS) has revealed.

David Hobson, managing director of GSS, made the discovery when he was visiting a local school to talk about internet ethics and behaviour. He straw polled a class of 13-year olds to ask how many visited social networking sites during lessons and the entire class raised their hands.

GSS then conducted a further survey of 1,000 students through Facebook. The results revealed that over half (52 per cent) logged onto Facebook during lesson times, and a quarter of those questioned were spending over half an hour on the site a day.

Toby Mullins, head of Seaford College in West Sussex, said: “I am disturbed, but not surprised, by the findings of this survey. There are two main issues; one is the safety of youngsters on the web and the second is the time that is frittered away. The time youngsters spend on the internet, and more specifically on social networking sites, is a huge challenge for parents and those of us in education.

“Youngsters are not only using lesson time but often quietly continue late into the night, leaving them short of sleep and irritable the next day. I think a study like this to highlight the problem is very timely. We now need to plan for a solution,” he said.

Hobson said: "Kids are potentially wasting as much as two and a half hours a week of lessons on Facebook. I recognise that there is a place for social networking, with a whole new generation now relying on it to communicate, but not at the expense of an education. Schools could learn a lesson from industry and ensure school children productively use the internet. Through the deployment of software, access to inappropriate websites can either be completely blocked, or limited to break time, economically and efficiently."

In a separate GSS poll, conducted with Infosecurity Europe 2008, it discovered that the recent popularity of social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, is costing UK corporations close to £6.5bn annually in lost productivity.