Happy Spring! Or is it still freezing cold where you are? Or already hot as summer? Regardless of the weather, spring is a great time for the birth of new ideas, approaches, and programming. Maybe something here will inspire you.
- You might be working and living in the “stroke belt,” did you know? Eleven states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia) are designated as areas with incredibly high prevalence of stroke, and new research shows that teens living in these areas are at higher risk for having strokes when they are older. This means that encouraging healthy habits and the cessation of unhealthy ones that could contribute to strokes, like smoking and diet, should be emphasized. Have you done any health programming lately? Read a news report on the study here, or check out the full article in Neurology. (more…)
Schoolyard taunts certainly haven’t gone away, but the Digital Age has brought with it the advent of cyberbullying, a method of peer abuse that allows for more anonymity for the aggressors, not to mention giving bullies the chance to engage in these taunts at any time of day or night, not just during school hours.
There are many documented health and behavioral effects of traditional and cyberbullying, and parents, teachers, and librarians are in a position to do a lot to help teach kids to deal with bullying and to stop it before it starts. But some teens are taking things into their own hands, too. College student Emily-Anne Rigal, who founded the organization We Stop Hate in 2010, is petitioning Facebook to add a bullying button to its posts. The button would allow users to report suspected abuse to potentially build up a case against a user and either remove their posts or their entire account from the site. Given that Facebook is one of the major arenas for cyberbullying, this seems like a good place to start.
Currently, Rigal is seeking votes on BullyButton.org for those who support having a method to report harassment. Proponents of the button say that this will help teens learn to recognize inappropriate online behaviors and monitor themselves. But possible drawbacks include teens using the button to incorrectly report behaviors that are not bullying. What side are you on?
How’s your team doing in March Madness? Mine just got to the Sweet Sixteen! While you’re waiting for the next time your alma mater plays, check out some of these interesting ideas and insights.
We all know that teens love to text. To respond to this, many schools and colleges now use text message alerts to notify students of school closures or safety issues. But what about health issues? It turns out, lots of doctors and researchers use text message interventions to tackle adolescent health concerns. In North Carolina, a free texting service offered teens the chance to anonymously ask questions about sexual health, and the teens involved in the study said that the service made them feel confident and encouraged them to follow up and learn more about their health. A similar study in 2011 offered teens weight management tips, and the weight and BMI of the study participants decreased after the intervention. College aged smokers participated in an intervention that left 40% of them staying away from smoking for a period of at least 7 days, while other participants reported less dependency on nicotine, which is also a good sign. Obviously as librarians, we cannot offer health advice. But what can you take from this study? Can school libraries use a texting service to alert students of new titles in the collection or upcoming book club meetings? Can public libraries partner with public health organizations to offer helpful services for teens concerned with a certain health or behavior issue? Can teen advisory groups pilot their own peer mentoring or counseling texting program? There are a lot of possibilities, and medical research shows that such programs can have really great results. (more…)
Congratulations! You’ve almost made it through February. If you’re struggling to find ideas for programs or just want to know what’s out there in the research world, maybe this will help.
Are your newer patrons the kind who wonder why librarians are relevant and useful? Just tell them that Beyoncé recently hired a personal librarian to archive and catalog her life.
A new study in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking looks at what influences teens’ decisions to disclose personal information to commercial websites. The researchers found that these decisions were linked to frequency of Internet use and social benefits of disclosing that information. It might be time to do a program on Internet security with your teens.
Wannes Heirman, Michel Walrave, and Koen Ponnet. Predicting Adolescents’ Disclosure of Personal Information in Exchange for Commercial Incentives: An Application of an Extended Theory of Planned Behavior. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. February 2013, 16(2): 81-87. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0041.
The Journal of Early Adolescence reported on the connections between race, ethnicity, and SES on growing BMI in children and adolescents. For girls, they found that low SES and high birth weight were big predictors of heavy weight gain, while African American and Asian American boys in higher SES brackets were more prone to obesity. It might bear looking at the full article in conjunction with the demographics of your library’s neighborhood or patron base next time you are preparing a book display on health and active lifestyles or when updating your collection, to make sure that you are showcasing materials that might hit the right age groups and cultural backgrounds so as to be extra relevant.
Fred W. Danner and Michael D. Toland. The Interactive Role of Socioeconomic Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Birth Weight on Trajectories of Body Mass Index Growth in Children and Adolescents. The Journal of Early Adolescence. February 2013, 33(3): 293-314. (more…)
We’re almost to 2013! Though I know you’re probably busy with end-of-year plans, projects, and tasks, I wanted to tell you about some recent news, research, and innovation you might find informative or inspiring for your library work.
A study recently published in the Journal of Educational Computing Research surveyed middle school students on their experiences with cyberbullying and found that those who engage are most often both victims and perpetrators. They looked at reporting behaviors, too, and found that even when students report cyberbullying, it rarely stops. If you’ve been addressing only one end of cyberbullying, you may want to consider changing up your programming to look at why it is that students both engage and suffer from it, and your teen advisory group might be interested in discussing methods that reporting and prevention programs can be made more effective.
Holfield, Brett, and Grabe, Mark. (2012). Middle school students’ perceptions of and responses to cyber bullying. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 46(4), 395-413.
It’s that time of year – rather, it’s been that time of year since before Halloween – when all the ads and commercials you see have a Christmas twist to them. Have you seen this viral video that parodies the Coca Cola bears to draw attention to the harmful health effects of drinking too much soda? Called The Real Bears and sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the video features a song by Jason Mraz (no doubt to hook people who don’t know what it’s about) and shows a family of bears slowly getting sicker and sicker as they make soda more of a part of their diet. Have your teens seen it? With a lot of strong reactions in both directions, the video might make for a great conversation starter in one of your advisory groups, or it could prompt some programming or displays on health and nutrition. (more…)
Thoroughly in the swing of things now? Already bored with what’s going on? Happy but ready to add more programming and interest to your services? Whatever the case, maybe some of these innovations, research publications, and other cool tidbits will inspire you.
You know your patrons like games. And you may already know of some of the social justice gaming websites and programs out there, like Games for Change or Spent. Now it might interest you to know that there’s a new game out there designed specifically to target your ethics, not just to make you live in someone else’s shoes or support a cause. Quandary is its name, and it was designed by The Learning Network, a collaboration between MIT and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Take a look at the game here, and then consider if your gaming club might attract new members with an interest in social justice, or if your volunteer group might like to try some gaming. Now that so many teens are so savvy at programming, you might be able to get a group together to create a game that tackles a local issue that they find important.
Even if you don’t work in a school media center, I’m guessing your life still tends to run on an academic schedule when you work with teens. So welcome to the new school year! Here’s what I think might be interesting, useful, or intriguing to you and your patrons this month.
- If your teens are interested in what’s new in the going green movement, have them look more globally to see what’s going on. In coastal Ecuador, young people from farming families are heading up efforts to save, cultivate, and redistribute heirloom seeds to revitalize the environment and help farmers prosper. Part of an organization called FOCCAHL, 20-year-old Cesar Guale Vasquez travels throughout nearby areas collecting seeds from farmers and also hosts swapping events so that farmers can trade seeds with each other in order to have more vibrant and diverse crops. Now take that for inspiration and add to it your own library’s resources on climate change, farming, and nutrition and plan an interesting program that combines science with activism and see what your advisory board wants to do with it. Many libraries now are creating their own seed libraries, and whether they’re for wildflowers or corn, they can be a great way to bring communities together, get young people to work with older people, and freshen up your local environment while doing your small part to keep the world cleaner and greener.
Matthews, J. (2012). Ecuador’s seed savior. World Ark, May 2012: 10-15. (more…)
Is this what they call the dog days? Not for me! This is my first summer living in Boston instead of Tucson, and I’m soaking up the beautiful high-80s temps they call “hot” around here and spending as much time outside as possible. But I did manage to go inside and find a few interesting tidbits for your personal interest and professional usefulness.
- Have you ever tried to explain to someone why their offhand comment that “that’s gay” offends you? Or been annoyed when you offer to help carry something heavy and you’re refused because you’re female? Maybe someone made a rude joke about Middle Easterners not knowing you are of Saudi descent? These are called “microaggressions,” and the Microaggressions Project, a collective blog made up of submissions from anyone who wants to share an experience of feeling belittled, ignored, or just frustrated, whether because of their religious beliefs, gender identity, race, victim status, or a variety of other factors. Without resorting to hate speech or angry tirades (and no specific names, locations, or other identifying information is in any of the submissions), this blog would not only be a great resource for teens who feel like their voices aren’t being heard, but you could talk with your advisory group and possibly start your own project, with something as easy as index cards and a locked jar or box. (more…)
School’s out, I’m no longer sick, and the blog is no longer down! In honor of the evolving focus of this column, I’ve changed its title and broadened my scope. But don’t worry; I’ll still be trolling the various databases for hard-hitting research, too. The first month of summer is usually the busy one, in which students are still finishing school, are already in summer school, or have begun to embark on busy summer adventures, like camp and travel. So the ideas I’m offering you are a bit more low-key or focused on the librarian, rather than the patron, since I gather that your patrons are not exactly in the mood yet for anything that requires a lot of commitment.
Last weekend, PostSecret put up a (trigger warning) postcard from someone who dislikes being labeled intolerant for saying that certain types of people are, maybe, hypocritical about oppression. That made me think of a tumblr I found once upon a time called Oppressed Brown Girls Doing Things, whose tagline, “Because we’re still oppressed,” is awesomely readable in a multitude of ways. You might just find this fun to read when there’s a lull in your day, but I know I’d love to see some of these posts find their way into a collage on a library wall, a bookmarks list on a library computer, or into the meeting of any group that meets in your teen room. While the content ranges from NSFW language to sarcastic gifs, the blog also brings up a lot of pertinent points about what it means to be a woman of color. (more…)