Teachable Moments in Internet Safety

Some of you know that my Meebo is logged in all day – my office is experimenting with being available to members via IM, to encourage our libraries to try it.

This afternoon, around 5, I got a message from someone I didn’t know, on my old AIM account, and since I am kinda “out there” on the ‘net, and I do get messaged by librarians all the time, I feel comfortable disclosing my name:

[14:05] Stranger: hey

[14:05] me: [screen name]… do I know you? ๐Ÿ™‚

[14:06] Stranger: I doubt it. How’s it goin’?

[14:06] me: ok… ๐Ÿ™‚

[14:06] me: what’s up?

[14:07] Stranger: Nothing really. Who are you? You’re on my buddy list for some reason…

[14:07] me: *lol*

[14:07] me: Beth Gallaway, gamer librarian

[14:07] Stranger: Gamer Librarian?

So, at this point, I am still thinking I am talking to another librarian. Then her buddy icon resolves itself, and it is a photo of a teenaged Asian girl.

[14:08] me: i’m a librarian, working as a trainer and consultant to libraries now

[14:08] me: and I am writing a book on games and libraries

[14:08] me: ๐Ÿ™‚

[14:08] me: ring any bells?

[14:09] me: I teach classes in library topics for Simmons, CT state library, and talk at a lot of library conferences.

[14:09] me: and I used to work in [Town], and sometimes gave out this AIM there to library patrons ๐Ÿ™‚

[14:09] me: who are YOU? *g*
[14:09] Stranger: Nope. I live in [Town, State].
[14:10] Stranger: I am [First name, Last name] possibly the best person you’ve ever met.
[14:10] me: most definitely.
[14:10] Stranger: Not to sound cocky.

So. Within 5 minutes, this young person gave me their town and full name. We shook virtual hands, and I just knew it had to be a kid… a bit later, after explaining what I do, I asked what do you do, work, school… she replied, “school” and that she had the day off due to the extremely cold weather.

We exchanged some game links (I gave her Set Game and she sent me to Flash Flash Revolution). And I suggested Teen Second Life and she immediately set up an account and gave me her screen name THERE. I gave her my account name and told her to visit the Eye4You Alliance Island.

Before logging off, I couldn’t let go of the fact that she gave personal information to a complete stranger within five minutes of talking for the first time

[14:29] me: just a sidenote:

[14:29] me: you gave me your full name and location within 5 minutes of meeting me…

[14:29] me: and i am totally legit *g*

[14:29] me: 32 yr old female librarian

[14:29] me: BUT

[14:29] Stranger: Ooh. Wow. Yeah.

[14:29] me: i would be remiss not to slap you on teh wrists!

[14:30] me: bad girl

[14:30] me: my myspace is informationgoddess29

[14:30] me: and if you DO get into second life, look me up

[14:30] Stranger: okay

[14:30] me: and keep sending game links ๐Ÿ™‚

[14:30] me: take care!

[14:30] Stranger: I will

[14:30] Stranger: lol

[14:30] Stranger: you too

[14:30] me: ๐Ÿ™‚

Should I have asked why? If she did it all the time? What her parents would think? Should I have tried to google her name and location, or looked her up on Facebook or MySpace to further prove my point? What do you all think?

I still have no clue how I got on her buddy list. Maybe we can play six degrees of separation if she messages me again.

Letter to Congress

I tried to reply to Linda’s post, but my comment was “invalid!” so here it is:

OMG.

I didn’t check my email all day. See, bad things happen when you are offline!

I did compose a note to my Congressman, in the hopes he and his aides read their email in the AM.

Dear Congressman,

I am writing to implore you to vote AGAINST the Deleting Online Predators Act as it is currently written. The Internet today is a interactive and dynamic one, where ANY website that allows you to sign in and interact with other users is a social software website including online department stores like Amazon.com, WebCT (used for online courses), news sites like Digg.com and Instant Messaging services used by over 75% of teens! An educational exception can be applied to each and EVERY use of blogs, wikis, and social software – I learn something new every time I log on to a social software website, where I read, discuss, analyze, create, think critically, search, hypothesize, and prove. I cannot echo Beth Yoke, Executive Director of YALSA, enough: EDUCATION, NOT LAWS BLOCKING ACCESS, IS THE KEY TO SAFE USE OF THE INTERNET.

By largest concern is for students themselves. According to the Search Institute (url), there are forty developmental assets that teens need to grow up into healthy, contributing members of our society. Things like support in the form of adult mentors who are not blood relatives (i.e. an aspiring teen writer talking to an author in an online chat or via MySpace), clear boundaries (i.e. by following rules set by individual libraries and communities), being viewed as resources (i.e. valued for their fan fiction and web building and video game modding) and socialization (i.e. journalling, sharing photos, and creating films), to name a few. Access to these asset-building social softwares are KEY to teens emotional and psychological and physical and spiritual growth! How would banning collaborative web applications stunt that growth?

My next concern is that librarians, who are on the forefront of this Internet safety issue (and ethical use of the Internet, I might add!) were NOT included in the committee, although this legislation affects those that get E-rates. Why were no librarians included, when such legislation would have such a major impact? We are working so hard to DECREASE the digital divide by provided access to those who cannot get it at home – people in impoverished areas of the country, often people who are minorities.

My final concern is that this piece of legislation takes power AWAY from parents, and I simply do not believe it is the job of the government to be a parenting institution.

Although I understand schools act in loco parentis, and that students may be distracted at school by games, instant messaging, blogging, etc, drill and practice is boring for kids who have grown up playing video games. They need a sense of engagement to think more deeply. Perhaps, assignments should integrate social software web applications to meet the needs of today’s students. It’s a whole new literacy out there! Let’s prepare kids for it รขโ‚ฌโ€œ not censor it.

Kind regards,

Beth Gallaway, MLS
Library trainer/consultant
Hampton NH

The Kids are Alright, and Stephen Abrams is great

Posted by Beth Gallaway

The YALSA Technology for Young Adults committee traditionally hosts a program at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning (okay, 8:00 AM – it’s early!) and it is ALWAYS worth getting up for.

This year, Stephen Abram, whose job title is Vice President of Innovation (how cool is that!?) and blogger extradordinaire of Stephen’s Lighthouse, presented The Kids are Alright! Millennials and their Information Behaviors to a LOT of other people who found were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and eager to hear what he had to say.

I walked in to hear him encouraging the audience to pay attention to gaming (yay!) and to read Beck & Wade’s Got Game (the paperback edition is named The Kids are Alright. Abram went on to impart characteristics of the millennial generation and show by example how they are different from Boomers and Gen X/Y. They are generally:

  • More direct (polite but assertive and demanding)
  • Smarter (IQ tests are revised and made more difficult every year; the current standard of 100 would have been genuis level when the test was first standardized) Healthier (about 8% smoke)
  • Both more liberal and conservative (multiculturally and globally aware, and patriotic and spiritual)
  • Well-balanced (able to both multitask and commune with themselves.

Some stats:
90% own a home computer
85% spend at least an hour a day online
75% have a TV in thir room (cramming 8.5 hours of television viewing into 6.5 hours, due to multitasking

In light of these facts, Abram challenged libraries to meet the youth where they are. “They live on the phone,” he said, challenging us to make our webpages be readable on small screens, to set up IM screen names and get into MySpace where our users are.

One of the most interesting things I heard was they the eyeballs of millennials move differently when reading – they skim the bottom and edges then focus on the center. And specific COLORS attract and repel -red draws attention first, neon green and orange are skimmed, and black is ignored completely. A slide on the teen brain compared activity patterns to show the shift on how the millennial’s brain is being used differently than the boomer’s brain.

Audience questions included:

  • Do you think the prevalence of cutting is due to the detachment of kids and immersion in technology? to which abram replied it’s not a technology related problem, it is more likely a response to pressure to perform and succeed placed upon youth by adults;
  • How do I get my OPAC search bar into MySpace? to which Abram recommended contacting Hennepin County, whose page he had highlighted during the presentation
  • Where can I find a poster of the image of the brain you showed, to use a tool for teachers, parents, admin to SHOW how these kids process information differently? Abram gave several sources for text posters.

All in all, well worth getting up for – watch http://stephenslighthouse.sirsi.com/ for the PPT presentation to appear.

Please continue the discussion of Millennials right here on YALSA’s blog! Do you agree with Abram’s assertations of millennial characteristics? What other programs and services are YOU offering to meet their needs? Share your ideas via comments!

Podcasting

Learn Out Loud has educational audio book and podcast content. Last week, one of their free downloads was an audio tour of Rockerfeller Center and the Diamond District in NYC. Is anyone else offering audio tours of their library?

This would be a great project for teens (especially for that Teen Advisory Board you recruited last week!). Instead of busywork – cutting out story time crafts or dusting shelves – it’s an opportunity to create something of use that will help other patrons.

For a list of other libraries doing podcasting, check out the Library Success: Best Practices Wiki at http://www.libsuccess.org. If your library is doing something cool and replicable, join and contribute! For podcasting, look under Technology.

New to podcasting? Check out the presentations from the Podcast Academy at Boston University last weekend: two days about equipment, marketing, and how-to’s of making your own audio files that can be sent as attachments with RSS. This amazing resource has the video from ALL of the speakers, plus their powerpoint presentations:
http://www.bu.edu/com/podcast

Posted by Beth Gallaway