Teens, Tweens, and Technology – What Are You Doing?

They’re in our libraries, on our computers.

But what, specifically, is the life of a tween or young teen like in this digital age? What are the particular challenges and opportunities they face online? And how do libraries help them?

We will explore these questions at the 2012 Presidents’ Program at ALA in Anaheim. It will be a joint affair between ALSC and YALSA. Michelle Poris (of Smartypants) and Stephen Abrams will be talking about tweens and young teens, exploring their use of technology, and asking the question “What should libraries be doing?”

But the real point of this post: what are YOU doing? Continue reading Teens, Tweens, and Technology – What Are You Doing?

App of the Week: SoundCloud

Title: SoundCloud

Cost: Free

Platform: iOS 4.0 or later, Also available in the Android Market.

Launched on January 12th of this year, SoundCloud is not the first sound recording app, but I would argue that it is certainly the most polished. SoundCloud gives users the ability to record sounds, with the choice to then share them publically with friends and followers or keep them private. When you first employ the app, you will be prompted to create a free account by designating yourself a username and password along with the option of adding a photo to your profile. The next step is to choose sounds or people to follow. By searching for people, you can find your favorite music artists and the new sound bites they record. Just like with Twitter, real bands have the “Official” seal of approval on their account so users know that it is, in fact, the actual artist or band behind the account. This is a great way to hear new music that hasn’t even been released yet. Fans can get a sneak peak of what is coming down the pike and musicians have the ability to get their music out before the album is released.

Not only does this app have excellent features for music fans, but it’s also, ideal for aspiring musicians. SoundCloud is the perfect way for budding teen artists to record their sounds and share them with the world. The sharing featuring links to Facebook to help the user locate friends who also use the app as well as to post sound recordings, for others to hear. Within the app there is a tab called “stream,” where you can look at recent activity within your follower community. From there, you can also listen to new sounds complete with timestamps noting when they were originally posted. Continue reading App of the Week: SoundCloud

App of the Week: safeGdriver

Title: safeGdriver

Platform: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

Cost: $1.99

Let’s face it, teaching a teenager how to drive is not the easiest thing to do. I can remember my parents alternating turns teaching me how to drive, taking me into empty parking lots to practice braking, parking, and controlled acceleration. I remember noticing that both of my parents drive differently and I would learn one thing from my mom that my dad would neglect to tell me and vice versa. When I finally did get my license, there were some rules to adhere to. I was not supposed to be listening to music, though I know I did, and I wasn’t allowed to have anyone in the passenger seat for at least the first 6 months. Although I’m pretty sure if safeGdriver was around when I was first starting out, this app would be definitely be allowed to ride shotgun with me.

safeGdriver was developed by a software engineer in Webster NY. The main function of this app is to identify gravitational force, which can causes errors like braking too late, harsh swerving, and other errors that an untrained teenage eye may make. This app is like having a parent in the front seat to tell you when you are going too fast, braking abruptly, or turned too quickly. To use, a teen may activate the device and place in a cup-holder or in an iPhone mount. It works any which way you put it, even upside down. As you drive, safeGdriver will send out a variety of audio signals to communicate any errors the driver may make. I know some may be thinking right about now, but Erica, this will encourage teens to fiddle with their phones while driving. I have to say the creator did not fail to address that concern.’ This app produces absolutely no visual feedback, only audio.’ So, there is no reason to even look at the phone until after you’ve reached your destination. When you are ready to view your results, safeGdriver provides some graphs highlighting the difficulties the driver had. For a teen, getting visual feedback works wonders, as opposed to a parent telling them they have made mistakes; now there is proof from an unbiased party. Continue reading App of the Week: safeGdriver

30 Days of How-To #6: How to do a Teen Program for less than $10

Coming up with ideas for programs can be a daunting task, especially to a new teen programmer. Coming up with cheap programs is even harder. I’m going to share some tips on how to accomplish effective and inexpensive teen programs.

The main thing that will help you out with programming is to know your resources. One of your most valuable resources is your children’s librarian- they are notorious hoarders. If you have an idea but don’t know how to convince your manager to pay for the supplies, check with your children’s librarian. She will happy to share those toilet paper rolls she has been storing for the past ten years “just in case.” She will also have great suggestions on how to make your program more successful. If you don’t have an idea for a program, look through her stash- you might find some great treasures there.

If you are having a hard time coming up with ideas for programs, go online and check out what other libraries are doing. You’ll be able to find something you think has potential and adapt using the things you already have available to you. There are also some really great websites for cheap crafts. You may have to think creatively to figure out how to adapt things to work with what you already have or to make it appropriate for you audience.

Another thing that can make it easier to do cheap teen programs is to pick a theme and stick with it for a month or a quarter or whatever time period you like. Summer Reading is always so great for programs because we are given a theme and it is so easy to come up with program ideas based on a theme.

Another great resource is to use your co-workers, friends and family. If you need supplies for a program, put an email out asking for help. I have about 20 soda bottles and empty chip bags because I needed them for programs this summer and sent an email to my co-workers. People are glad to help out.

You can also check with your community to see who is willing to come and do free programs. I have had NASA come and do a program. I have also worked with local universities to have them come and do workshops on gaming and science. I have had the police department and fire department come do demonstrations geared towards teens. One time the bomb squad came out with a robot they use to check out bombs- it was very cool. I have had local authors come and do programs for free. You might be surprised how many people are willing to help out the library for free. And it never hurts to ask- the worse that can happen is that you’ll be told no, leaving you in the same place you are now.

But, your most important resource is yourself. In August I did a middle school program with a caveman theme. One of my co-workers came up with idea to make pet rocks. The kids LOVED it. The reason they loved it is because my co-worker and I had so much fun with it. We were cracking jokes about how our rocks had different personalities and how expensive it was going to be to feed them and made other stupid commentary about the rocks. All of the kids created two or three “pets” using markers to make faces on the rocks.

This just goes to show that you don’t have to have $100 worth of supplies to have a successful program. You just have to use the resources you have, be creative and a good attitude and you’ll be golden.

YA Lit Symposium: Looking for Diversity? Start with Your Own Teens

In this session, Pam Spencer Holley presented lists that she and co-author Julie Bartel (who was unable to attend) compiled for their book YALSA Annotated Book Lists for Every Teen Reader. Realizing that one of the biggest problems librarians have is finding the right books for a wide variety of teen readers, they looked to the YALSA-BK discussion list, reading through six years of archives and mining it for categories based on regularly asked questions.’  Bartel and Holley used recommendations offered by others on the listserv, adding newer titles if needed, and also winnowing down when their lists grew too large.

Each attendee was given a long list of recommendations in twelve categories, and Holley spoke briefly of every title listed, beginning each category by discussing the questions that prompted it.’  Some of the categories included were: Continue reading YA Lit Symposium: Looking for Diversity? Start with Your Own Teens

Dear Teens at My Desk,

Just as I was about to begin writing my long overdue blog post on the YALSA website you bounded to the circulation desk and challenged me to a duel of wits. “Anything can be linked to Harry Potter” you exclaimed. With such confident swagger and determined stares, how could I NOT take you up on this challenge?

How was I to know that asking’ you about HP’s relationship to formal poetry, chemical engineering and Antarctica would lead to talk of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, and Geraldine McCaughrean’s The White Darkness?’  I don’t know how it happens that I’ve never seen the Harry Potter musical on You Tube though you aren’t the first to try to show it to me. And I’m proud of you for returning to the text to find evidence to support your assertions.

Still, how could I predict that two more would ‘ join your forces– adding environmental sustainability and William Golding’s The Princess Bride into the conversation equation? And why did I’ believe showing you this MeowFail was relevant? Was I linking Winston to Crookshanks? How is it that over an hour passed while we talked? Finally looking back at my screen, I see that ‘ I only have’ a partial’ sentence written for my post:

“While this post is arriving part of the way through National Library Week”

and I’m sure that really just won’t do. Didn’t you all come to the library to do some work or something? Continue reading Dear Teens at My Desk,

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!