The most recent On the Media (OTM) broadcast includes a segment called The Net Effect. That segment is worth listening to. What is also worth listening to is the audio file on the OTM web site which is the uncut version of OTM host Brooke Gladstone’s interview with Pew Internet in American Life Director Lee Rainie. You can listen to that file right from this blog post. Liisten

Rainie has been present at many library and education events as keynote speaker. As a result, many librarians and teachers have had the chance to hear what he has to say about technology in the lives of Americans and its impact on educational institutions. However, even if you have heard Rainie before, this interview is worth listening to in order to hear him discuss the impact of technology in a broad context.

As I listened to the audio there were a few points that I thought would resonate with those serving teens. They include:

  • A discussion of new literacies and how teens think about writing in the current web-based social networking era. Rainie mentions a Pew study in which it was discovered that teens consider writing only within the context of what they have to do for school. In teen minds the writing that takes place outside of school-related assignments (text messaging, Facebook wall posting, and so on) is simply communication.
  • The idea that users of technology tend to be information ominivores. When interested in a particular topic, instead of performing cursory searches for information, researchers actually dig deep to uncover a wide-variety of information on the topic. (Of course this presupposes an interest in the topic, which is all too often not the case with/for teens when they perform school-related research.)
  • The fact that social networking does not make introverts more introverted, nor does it remove all desire for social contact for those who are active in virtual social networks. Rainie highlights the fact that social networks simply extend our ability and capacity to connect with people in face-to-face and virtual ways.

During the conversation as Brooke Gladstone listened to Rainie discuss the changes occurring in society as a result of technology – particularly in the area of literacies – she said to Rainie, and I’m paraphrasing, “And our response to these changes should be C’est la Vie?” with Rainie’s ultimate response being, “Yes, C’est la Vie.”

It’s true, technology is changing the way that teens, and others, communicate and connect. We as librarians serving teens need to take this C’est la Vie approach in order to be relevant and keep up.

Listen to the conversation between Gladstone and Rainie and have others with whom you work listen as well. You and they will hear a balanced and well-formed dialog about the impact technology is having on the lives of those you serve.

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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