Positive Use of Social Networking #20-Educating Parents in the Library

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 #20.

My colleague, who teaches MySpace classes for parents around the library system, has had a lot of positive results. Teens show up for these presentations as well, give their input, and a lot of great conversation results.

Some of the parents that have attended these workshops at the library include the following:

One couple’s daughter was raped several years ago by a man that will soon get out of prison. They attended the class to learn how they could keep their daughter safe online so that she could not be found via MySpace.

One father attended a workshop because he wanted to be in the same ballpark as his teens with technology; to have a way to communicate with them, by finding out what it is they are doing online.

Parents who want to allow their daughter freedom and flexibility but also honesty and safety in communicating online.

Here is the handout my colleague uses for his workshops which is also on theYALSA Teen Tech Week wiki.

If DOPA had passed in its current form, parents would probably not consider the library a resource to help guide them through the social networking sites that their teens are using at home. Teens would be less likely to participate in a dialogue at school and public libraries on using these sites in a responsible manner. Education within the school and public library setting can deter predators-not ignorance and not forcing these sites to only be accessed at home.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #17 – Networking with authors

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 #17.

YA author Brent Hartinger generously donated his time to talk about social networking issues and DOPA. If DOPA had passed, many teens would be unable to engage in opportunities to connect with authors such as Brent. Schools and public libraries miss out on being able to connect authors in places teens are at and comfortable in communicating.

1. When did you decide to start using social networking tools such as blogs and MySpace? Did you have an online presence and belong to any fanfiction communities, participate on forums, etc. long before you started publishing books?

Hmmm, interestingly, this whole online community thing sort of coincided with my emergence as a writer. I sold my first novel in 2001, and I immediately started putting together my website. I was definitely connected before that, but not nearly in the way I am now. It’s interesting to think about how connected I’d be if I wasn’t an author. Trying to sell books, and making myself available to readers, that’s definitely a motivation, partly because it’s so darn much fun, but also because, hey, this is how I make my living, and I need to eat!

2. How has having an online presence through these social networking tools allowed you to connect with teens and other authors or fans in ways that you wouldn’t have been able to?

Oh, it’s amazing! I respond to dozens of emails, and chat with at least another dozen people via IM every single week. And then there’s blog postings, and responses to my postings, which I always respond to. I swear, every single day, some new opportunity comes to me via the internet. Which is great, even if I’m chronically way over-extended.

I happen to be an author who does a lot of “live” events–I tour for every book, and speak at a lot of conferences and schools, something like 60 events a year. But even with all that, I don’t have nearly the “live” contact with readers that I have online, which is definitely in the thousands of people every year.

3. What is your criteria for ‘friending’ people on your MySpace page?

Well, I’m pretty liberal. But if I sense that it’s spam, someone trying to sell me something, I say no. Frankly, that really annoys me. I love to sell books too, but only if readers come to me! I’m an opt-in kinda guy.

4. There has been criticism of the scene(s) in Geography Club where Kevin and Russell, online friends first, meet in person. If teens do want to meet their online friend in person, what would you recommend?

Keep in mind that, in the book, Russel discovers that he and Kevin definitely go to the same school. So they “know” each other, and they know they’re both teenagers–they just don’t know each other’s names. That scene was also written in 1999, long before we became hyper-aware of these things.

In real life, I would always absolutely recommend meeting in a public place, like a mall, and definitely going with friends. Don’t EVER go anywhere with anyone alone on that first meeting. Believe me, there are lot of sickos out there–and most of them don’t necessarily look like sickos!

5. If the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) had passed in its current form, and teens possibly would be unable to access your MySpace site from the school or public library, what does that mean for you?

That would be unforunate, because I do hear from a lot of folks from school. Mostly, I’d think it would just be sad, because I’d like to see individual schools pass their own policies on these things, based on the needs of their own students. If they must mandate anything, how about some kind of reasonable, non-hysterical online education? (With the funding to pay for it, of course!)

6. Do you have any idea how many young adult authors have MySpace pages?

More and more. Obviously everyone has limits as to what they can do in a day, but I happen to think it’s almost required. In fact, I often say that if you’re uncomfortable dealing with people, and don’t want to have anything to do with anything online, you might consider another profession than that writer of teen books. These days, it’s almost a requirement that you be accessible to fans, at least if you want to sell books. But honestly, it’s the best part of my job, and I didn’t think it would be. I mean, fan email? How could that EVER get old?

7. Anything else you want to add?
Well, I’m pretty proud of my website, which

I think it pretty unique and is hopefully an entertainment experience in itself.

Here’s my MySpace profile

And my Live Journal blog

And I also contribute to another blog, http://asifnews.blogspot.com, one about issues of censorship and intellectual freedom, for a group I helped found called Authors Supporting Intellectual Freedom (or AS IF!)

Much thanks to Brent for his time!

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #13 – Second Life

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 #13.

Second Life(SL) is a 3D virtual world for adults age 18 and over where one can create an avatar, interact with others, and design the world they want to live in. Over 100 universities and colleges are involved in SL to offer their students a learning experience through this world.

Teen Second Life is for teens, 13-17 and is separate from adults because of safety reasons. Teens can own land, run their own business, design clothes, create machinima, bring their favorite story scene to life through build and design skills, and learn about social issues such as child pornography and sex trafficking which was what GlobalKids did through their camp in Second Life this summer with teens. Schools such as Suffern Middle School in New York, is aligning curriculum standards for their 8th graders with Teen Second Life, and will have a presence to serve their students hopefully by next month.

The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in NC and the Alliance Library System in IL have announced a partnership last week to collaborate on library services for teens through Teen Second Life. The project will involve a collaboration with libraries and other youth serving organizations to reach teens where they are at and keep the library relevant to their needs. To find out what libraries are already doing on Second Life with adults, check out: www.infoisland.org Many YALSA members are already involved in Second Life with incredible and tremendous talent and are involved with the teen library project as well. The Alternative Teen Services blog links to Second Life under their ‘connect’ list.

While background checks are required for any adult working with teens on Second Life, if DOPA in its current form, had passed, teens at public and school libraries that are offering Second Life as a program, might be unable to access it or at least the rich world of communication tools that surround the virtual world such as blogs and wikis that foster collaboration and information for projects.

Developmental needs such as community support, motivation to learn, and cultural competence are perfect combinations to build upon through Second Life.

For more information on the library project, or to get involved, check out www.infoisland.org. To find out what other educators are doing in Second Life, go to the SimTeach wiki at: www.simteach.com.

It’s not too late to participate in Info Island’s open house going on this weekend in Second Life. Create an avatar and join the fun! Audio presentations will be archived on OPAL

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #11-Building a Community around Gaming

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 #11.

Many libraries are offering gaming programs for teens on a regular basis and have been for awhile. This year’s ‘Get Active @ Your Library’ theme for Teen Read Week provides a perfect fit for DDR, which many libraries are participating in during this week.

Librarians have also worked to build community around gaming programs through social networking tools.

  • The sheer number of comments from teens on the Ann Arbor District Library gaming blog is amazing.
  • Another site to check out is the Gamefest site from the Bloomington Public Library in Illinois which again builds community around gaming by using social networking tools such as Flickr and linking to local gaming conventions which use discussion boards and blogs to communicate their events.
  • Last year, during a DDR event at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Illinois, Aaron Schmidt wrote about ‘harvesting content while they were there.’ By making Audacity available, teens recorded materials reviews during the gaming event, including books, to later be posted to the library web site.
  • Many libraries are using MySpace pages or blogs to host videos, photos, and announcements for their gaming events. One teen created his own MySpace page, boasting how he would be the winner of my library’s summer gaming tournament.

Consider connecting with the social networking resources that are already in your community to let them know about your gaming events. Local gaming conventions, Teen Clubs that offer video gaming nights, DDR Freak allows people to post about their gaming events-and teens do check this board, and websites for specific games often have a place to post about upcoming tournaments and events through a discussion board.

If DOPA passes, opportunities to connect with millennials who are gamers with the library, will be very difficult.

Join the MacArthur Foundation discussion on gaming from October 16-November 3; Everywhere Now: Three Dialogues on Kids, Games, and Learning.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #8-Empowerment

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 #8.

Robbie Trencheny is 14 years old. He is the president and CEO of the Teen Podcasters Network (TPN).

Check out his video interview here. Since Robbie’s interview which took place at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo during the end of September, in Ontario, TPN reached its highest ever peak of visits in one day-349.

Self-assured Robbie might be the youngest CEO in history according to the news interviewer. Social networking has tremendous power to build developmental assets for teens.

Robbie has Family Support since his mother drives him to conferences such as the Podcast and Portable Media Expo. He is Empowered, to provide a service for a large community of teens and they Value his contributions by viewing the site and contributing their own podcasts. He seems to have positive Adult role models because of his mother’s support and the way he conducts his company. He has Responsibilities and a Sense of Purpose in maintaining the network.

As libraries, we have great opportunities to help teens build assets through social networking. Podcasting does not have to take a lot of expensive equipment. Let teens promote programs and what is going on in the local community through podcasts. The Cheshire Public Library in CT does a great job of encouraging teen leadership through podcasting by having their own cultural magazine. If DOPA is passed, the opportunity for libraries to build developmental assets for teens through social networking, will be diminished and we won’t be giving them the best services which is what teens deserve.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #6 – It can be done in a library


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 #6.

The fact that social networking can be done in a library, might be stating
the obvious. However, if DOPA passes, the library as a relevant place for teens will be significantly effected.


The Library as a place where social networking can occur is also important
for another reason. As Beth Gallaway’s MySpace? YourSpace? WhoseSpace? post indicated, “Banning isn’t the answer. Educating is.” How effective are libraries going to be to empower teens in making good online choices if the tools to do so can’t be used, accessed, or played with in a library?


In a May 2006 interview about
DOPA, Henry Jenkins stated, “These sites play a key role in youth culture

because they give youth a space to hang out amongst friends and peers, share cultural artifacts (like links to funny websites, comments about TV shows) and work out an image of how they see themselves.”

Giving youth a space to hang out, to share, to work out their identity-is
this not already part of what we do to serve their needs with our programs and services? It only makes sense then that libraries continue to be a place where not only can social networking tools be accessed, but helped to be used creatively and responsibly.


DOPA is pretty good at pointing to ‘that predator’ which might conjure up images of an adult preying on children that need to be protected. But what about teens that are using social networking tools to be hurtful to one
another? Sending threatening text messages to one another, sharing email
passwords and then changing them in order to force control over another, or
teens using cell phones to monitor each others whereabouts every minute of
the day. In the context of dating violence among teens, use of these

technologies in this way is prevalent.

Again, the Library as place to give teens the tools to use social networking positively, know when the tools are being used inappropriately and what they can do about it is important.


Banning their use in a school or public library is not going to empower teens and make issues of power and control with social networking go away.


If DOPA is passed, many teens will not find the library to be a relevant space
for their needs nor a place that can help them through this increasingly
interactive digital world.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #4 – Flicktion


During October a small group of YALSA bloggers will post ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #4.


Many of you might have heard the term ‘Flicktion’ before and might even have used it in your school or library as a story starter. If so, please share! If not, do a search on Flickr for the tag ‘flicktion’ (or a Google search if you don’t have a Flickr account). The description underneath the pictures tell a story from the viewer of the photo. They can then share this with other viewers, which will allow for more comments and read/write activity.


If you are already using Flickr at your library to post photos of programs, consider creating a set of Flicktion photos with teens, and see how they respond. If teens have a writing club, online newsletter or participate in a bookclub at a jail, consider using this tool to engage them.


Pictures of their avatar, completed quest, or any high action scene in their favorite video game often have photo enabled tools within the online environment, they can quickly take a snapshot of and post to Flickr and let the stories begin.


If your’e still not sold on using this photo sharing site for story starters, check out ALAs TechSource post by Michael Stephens. He has a lot to say about the positive uses of Flickr.


Once again, if DOPA is passed sites like Flickr won’t be available in schools and public libraries. That also means that librarians won’t have the opportunity to help teens navigate responsibly through such sites as Flickr.


Posted by Kelly Czarnecki