Teens and their use of technology, whether cell phones, social media, gaming, or even plain old tv is getting a bad rap in the media and in advertisements.’ ‘  Obesity has been associated with the amount of time a child spends in front of a screen.’  There are studies showing the’  association between technology and sleep deprivation.’  A recent anti-drug campaign’  offers parents help for teens who use their cell phone to access drugs’  (The image of the cellphone on the table is reminiscent of the classic anti-drug ad with the single blunt).’ ‘  Dateline has proved over’  and over again that the Internet is full of predators.’ ‘  I do not argue with any of these findings. ‘  I worry, though, that technology gets too much of the blame.’  Because of these negative associations, I think that teens’ use of technology becomes something that parents, teachers and librarians try to curb rather than try to encourage.’  When we are bombarded with these studies and advertisements, adults can forget how much reading a teen does with technology and the positive influence technology has. As librarians we are in a position to help bring awareness to how technology can be dangerous; however,’  we must remember that we have an equal if not more important role in helping teens use technology to get better information, to socialize, to play games and to read.

Change the idea of Reading

Somehow the image of a teen staring at a computer screen or a hand-held is viewed as lazy or unproductive. In our society, if a teen isn’t doing something productive than they shouldn’t be doing it. Now parents are worried that not only are their tech savvy teens not being productive but they also are gaining weight and losing sleep.’  If you are talking with parents about how to monitor tech-use, remind parents that they would not feel this way if their teens were staring at a’  book or newspaper. Whenever they are staring at the screen, they are most likely reading (unless they are watching a movie or tv). This reading needs to count and we need to encourage this reading.’  Facebook posts and tweets are exchanges of information and teens are reading and processing this information.’  As technology grows and changes, teens will be better served if they can read and understand all different forms of communication.

Equal Access to Information

We need to remember this’  important tenet of the profession.I have read on anti-drug websites that parents need to understand that their children use the computer to learn about how to abuse drugs.’  Yes, the Internet is full of information but the answer is not to limit their use of the Internet. Talking to teens about drugs or other dangers is a much more effective way of reducing a teen’s likelihood to abuse drugs than limiting’  or over-monitoring their screen time.’ ‘ 

Promote Technology in the Library

In our libraries, we can make sure that teens have access to social media, Internet and other technologies. For many teens who can not afford a home computer or hand held, the library continues to be the best place for them to access information. It is worth trying to set up computers stations that have unlimited access.’  This makes the teen feel empowered and trusted. In turn, teens will trust us.’ 

I think that programing can also be an effective way to promote technology. I would love to work on teen programs that help highlight new advances in technology. Maybe a program about new apps or a speaker who talks about what the future will look like.’  Any suggestions?

Equally important, I think that YA librarians should consider working with the adult services librarian on programs that help parents who are not tech savvy.’ ‘  I found that explaining how Twitter works or how to protect your Facebook page makes parents much more comfortable with their teen’s use of technology.

I would love to hear other suggestions!

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