Should You Talk About It?

My friend pointed out to me that NPR’s Talk of the Nation was having a program today and yesterday in regards to discussing the Virginia Tech tragedy with children. Both audio recordings are archived.

While the shows were directed more toward teachers and parents, rather than librarians explicitly, it might help to listen since a variety of people contributed to the conversations and a range of age groups were discussed.

Some highlights in regards to talking with tweens and teens included:

  • create opportunities to talk about how they feel by asking open ended questions and listening
  • talk about examples of the positive heroic stories of people not only helping each other but strategies used to save lives
  • limit screen time, depending on the child’s age
  • focus on the learning experiences such as reminding tweens/teens it’s okay to ask for help from a counselor or teacher (and librarian!) if they notice a friend acting differently or threateningly
  • since teens going away to college the next year might have some concerns about what might happen to them when they do go away, reviewing the resources the school has to keep students safe
  • taking note of and reporting if necessary, behavior changes that might indicate anxiety is showing up such as from skipping class or starting to fight more often

A recommended resource was the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry with links that range from ‘Talking to Children about Community Violence’ to ‘Facts for Families.’

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Video Games and Virginia Tech

Wired reported that it took eight hours to connect video games with the Virginia Tech tragedy. Are video games used as a scapegoat for what happened or is there perhaps some merit in looking at a connection between the two? While there are opinions and studies on both sides: No Strong Link to Violent Video Games and Agression by Dmitri Williams, University of Illinois to Jack Thompson on YouTube speaking about video games related to Virginia Tech, who are we to believe? Since there has been such an emphasis on serving gamers at our libraries in recent years, how do we make the case that gaming is a viable and necessary service when tragedies such as Virginia Tech are tied to video games? How do we separate the people from the video game and how can we as librarians shape experiences for teens and adults at our libraries to value the positive aspects of gaming? Here are some ideas:

  • talk about it. Don’t be afraid to ask gamers and parents (who might be gamers as well), what they think about this at your library’s next gaming event and how they can (teen/parent) start a dialogue revolving around video games
  • post resources on your web site that your library can offer to teens in regards to responding to the Virginia Tech tragedy.
  • site positive resources of gaming such as What Video Games Have to Teach Us by James Paul Gee (Palgrave MacMillan, 2004) or Don’t Bother Me Mom–I’m Learning by Marc Prensky (Paragon House Publishers, 2006)
  • encourage teens to share with their parents/caregivers what games they are playing and what they are learning from them

What else? Please share.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Teens as content creators during times of tragedy

As I watch the news about the tragedy at Virginia Tech, there was a reporter from CNN that said this was the first time she remembers the volume of photos and video coverage being sent to them from the public about a particular incident. There was a psychologist on the news as well that talked about how many teens might watch the news frequently and feel the event is happening over and over. The global news coverage will affect teens everywhere and the librarians that work with them through such portals as Teen Second Life.

Since creating media and ‘putting themselves out there’ is an important part of adolescent development, why not create opportunities in the library for teens to respond? According to a 2005 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, half of all teens could be considered ‘content creators’. If they have anxiety and questions, what can we as librarians do to help that?

  • Put out markers and card stock out on a table for teens to create cards, scan the cards with a scanner and put them on your library web site or other site
  • Put a link on your library’s MySpace page to Odeo or Gcast where they can leave a podcast of their thoughts
  • project a collaborative whiteboard onto a screen so that teens in your library can come by and contribute
  • create a memorial in Second Life or Teen Second Life
  • Since some teens turn to MySpace for grieving for friends, why not send out a post from your library’s MySpace page or a list of chat sites they might find helpful to share their thoughts about?
  • have filming equipment? even a digital camera or cell phone? guide a short video with teens in how they can respond to yesterday’s events.

This just in from Andy Carvin’s presentation at the conference (more ideas! and his presentation is here:

  • BlogBurst is a USA Today initiated project where bloggers can be put on major media sites. Why not make this available to teens off your library web site so they too can contribute to the bigger world.
  • Bliptv and CNN worked together to submit video footage of news stories. Encourage teens to use this site to get their message out. Also through iReports.

According to Andy Carvin,, “no one entity has a monopoly on the conversation.” We as librarians serving teens can help direct them to participate in the conversation too.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki