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Social networking, Canadian style

January 10, 2008

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A new SFU-developed online community for Canadian teens is revealing their concerns about the environment and the world beyond their own backyard. FYI Canada (fyicanada.ca) was created by SFU’s 7th Floor Media group on behalf of the Historica Foundation. It’s a social networking site where Canadian kids can discuss issues and share their passions, opinions, videos and photos.

Launched last October with little fanfare, the site has begun to attract a steady following. Noni Maté, 7th Floor Media co-director and a developer of the site, says it’s like “Facebook with a Canadian hat.” FYI Canada is moderated and teens have to register to use it. “We’re taking what kids are already doing online and allowing them to do that within a safe context and a Canadian context,” explains Maté. “We’re trying to give young people a voice—and a little bit of focus—on Canadian issues.”

So far, the site’s most popular feature is a polling option that lets them create their own opinion polls. Most often, says Maté, those polls relate to environmental issues. Blogging and photo-sharing are popular too. The site also presents resources and content to help teens examine issues more deeply. Maté hopes teachers will visit and recommend the site to their students. She says it can be a valuable online tool for stimulating discussion in the classroom.
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