During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #21.
One of the developmental assets outlined by the Search Institute in their 40 Developmental Assets is positive identity. In order for teens to grow up successfully they need to have opportunities to figure out who they are.
Personalization in social networking is seen in everything from creating a MySpace page to setting up an account at PageFlakes and creating a personalized home page. Using a tool like PageFlakes gives teens a chance to decide what content is most important to them. In PageFlakes teens can add RSS feeds, import their email, add YouTube videos, integrate their bookmarks, move content around, include Flickr photos, and give the page it’s own look and feel. Ultimately, PageFlakes becomes the web-based desktop for teens when they open up the browser.
One day a teen might walk into the library dressed one way and the next day the teen might walk into the library dressed another. That’s a way that teen tests out different identities. PageFlakes allows for that testing out by giving teens opportunities to change browser-based home pages and opportunities for deciding if their PageFlakes pages are available for others to see. Librarians and teens can talk about what types of content on PageFlakes might be shared with others and what might not. Teens can think about if they want just anyone to be able to see their interests as displayed on PageFlakes. The opportunities for thinking about what teens want others to know about them is a part of determining identity and PageFlakes allows for that.
Gaining a positive identity is important in order that teens grow up successfully. If DOPA were passed it would mean that teens would lose an opportunity to figure out who they are.