Yesterday morning the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsored a session titled Your Brain on DOPA.’ The program was designed to give attendees an opportunity to find out:
- What is happening with federal and state legislation related to social networking (and with technology in general).’ John Morris, General Counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology presented this part of the program.
- What current research says about child and teen use of online tools in the areas of cyberbullying and predation. Dr. Michele Ybarra, President of Internet Solutions for Kids presented on this topic.
- How libraries can educate their communities about the positive impact of social networking. This was the portion of the session that I presented.
As I sat on the panel listening to my fellow presenters, what really struck me was what a wide-array of legislation is pending. Also, I realized again, how many misconceptions there are about social networking and it’s impact on the lives of children and teens.’ Here are some points that I noted while listening to the other presenters:
- Legislators have not been able to define what social networking is because it’s not just one thing/one form of technology.’ As a result social networking legislation tends to be too broad.’ And, related to this, the web already is one big social network and it will only become more this way.
- CIPA is very different from DOPA.’ CIPA focuses on making sure minors don’t have access to materials that are illegal.’ DOPA is not about access to illegal materials, it’s about access to materials.
- Laws at both the federal and state levels have recently focused on parental permission.
- Laws at both the federal and state levels impinge on the privacy and free speech of not just minors but also adults.
- The new digital divide is focused on where children and teens have access as opposed to if they have access.
- We need to step back, take a deep breath, and really analyze what’s going on. We need to compare bulying, predation, etc. that occurs outside of the technology realm and compare that with what goes on in the technology realm.
- It’s important to know how a survey defines harassment.’ The definitions change and data on the topic can be skewed as a result.
- A majority of young people have positive experiences on the web and are not harassed.
- When comparing levels of harassment online and off, the numbers are pretty much the same.
- Young people are more likely to be bullied at school than online.
The information at the presentation got me thinking in a few different ways about how to talk to library customers and librarians about social networking and its impact on teen lives.’ I’m thinking about how those who serve teens in libraries, can take information about current legislation, connect that with the data on what is really going on with teens online, and articulately present to community members why we need to educate about social networking and not simply take it away from teen library users (or potential users.)
You can access slides from the program:
My presentation is embedded below: