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What started out as a way to keep in touch with friends, family and other peers has now grown to be much more.

Social networking is defined as the grouping of individuals into specific groups such as rural communities and small town subdivisions. In recent years it has expanded to the Internet and other messaging systems.

Social networking has been absorbed into the lives and daily needs of the average person. This year Century High School has lifted the ban on social networking sites such as Youtube, Faceboook and Twitter for teachers. Twitter is now available for student access.

Because of the Children's Internet Protection Act certain Web sites are required to be blocked to students. This year the Bismarck Schools District is in the process of filtering which Web sites will be offered to students. The Web site availability will vary throughout each level of school.

"We are first going to see how it works, have it available for educational purposes," Century High School teacher Bonnie Kettleson said.

Sites now available for students can't be used only for personal reasons.

"We do not want our resources being abused; some kids need the media sites and the time spent on computers," said Kettleson.

Whether students realize it or not social networking has become a daily part of their lives. Every time a student sends a text message it's a form of social media. Century High School teachers have incorporated social networking into their classes.

Century English teacher Mary Redekopp does class activities at polleverywhere.com. In the activity a question will appear on an overhead, then students will text an answer to the specific number. The answers will then appear on the overhead.

"I use it to see what the students have retained from class," Redekopp said. "It is a good assessment tool."

Reddekopp makes questions out of lessons that she is covering in class. Her senior English class has questions over "Beowulf" right now.

Each class is divided into two groups for the whole semester. The class with the most points from answering questions correctly gets a "prize cup."

"I think we have to adapt to technology," Redekopp said. "People are able to connect to it."

Students have started to use the programs and sites now being offered to them. Century junior Krista Tolstedt didn't know that some social networking sites were now available to be used at school.

"I will definitely use the Web sites for school work, especially in classes like American Pageant," Tolstedt said.

Tolstedt also said that she texts her friends to meet up throughout the day and that if a site like Facebook was able to tell news updates that she would use it at school, but for now students have unblocked access to Twitter.

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