YALSA President Judy Nelson sent the following letter to US News and World Report in response to their recent article Decoding My Space:

Thank you for your recent article, “What Parents Need to Know about MySpace.” I wanted to emphasize a key point mentioned in the article: that parents may indeed end up being the “only consistent adult arbiter of their children’s day-to-day social-networking behavior” if Congress passes legislation banning social networking sites in schools and libraries that use E-rate funds to provide Internet access. We in the library community do not understand why Congress would want to limit access to social networking sites in the very place where children and teens can learn to use them safely–especially when recent research has shown that use of the Internet, including social networking sites, leads to improved reading and other academic successes for young people.

By integrating social networking into educational environments, children and teens have the opportunity to learn from professional librarians and educators how to be safe and smart when participating in online social networks. They also learn a valuable life skill, as these technologies are communication tools that are widely used in higher education and the workplace.

Librarians have always played an active role in educating children, teens and parents about Internet safety, and we continue to do so by educating them about the appropriate use of social networking sites. I would like to encourage concerned parents to speak with their local school or public librarian about social networking sites and find out what information and resources he or she has to offer. Many libraries offer workshops and informational sessions on the topic.

Used appropriately, social networking sites that offer online interaction can be a positive and sometimes educational experience for young people. Librarians stand ready to work with parents to make sure that all children and teens are safe and effective users of the Internet.

Judy Nelson, President Young Adult Library Services Association

The letter hasn’t appeared in the magazine, yet, and of course we don’t know if it will. But, other librarians might want to follow in Judy’s footsteps and send in their own letters to support and inform US News. You can send in comments easily via the magazine’s web-based form.

The article was a great positive approach to My Space, teens, and the role parent’s play in supporting teen use of My Space. While it’s unfortunate that US News and World Report didn’t understand and include the role of libraries, we can all send letters to the magazine to help inform them of the very important role libraries and librarians play, and why DOPA is not the the way to go in order to keep teens safe online.

Thanks to US News and World Report and thanks to Judy too! It’s great to know people involved in YALSA are speaking up and out.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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