The MacArthur Foundation just released a new report titled Living and Learning with New Media: Findings from the Digital Youth Project. Every librarian working with teens should download a copy of this report and read it. Why? Because the data presented provides librarians with much needed information to help them, and others, understand why teen use of social media is key to successful youth development.’  It’s clear from the findings and recommendations in the report that teen use of online social media has many benefits, and that as adults it is our responsibility to support teens in their use of this media. Read More →

A majority of adults say technology allows their family life today to be as close, or closer, than their families were when they grew up…. Indeed, 25% of our survey respondents feel that their family today is now closer than their family when they were growing up thanks to the use of the internet and cell phones, while just 11% say their family today is not as close as families in the past.

That data is from a new report titled Networked Families published by the Pew Internet in American Life Project. Read More →

Last week the Pew Internet in American Life Project released a report on the use of cloud computing by adults 18 and up. The Pew study describes cloud computing this way:

For everyday users of the internet and computers, cloud computing is any online activity, such as accessing data or using a software program, which can be done from different devices regardless of the on-ramp to the internet.

While 13 to 17 year olds were not surveyed for the study, the researchers did discover that younger adults, 18 to 29 year olds, were more likely to use cloud computing than older adults.’  The Pew report states: Read More →

Music’s been blamed for all sorts of things, from infecting teens with devilish sexual urges to causing them to commit murder. Yet, rarely has anyone suggested that what a teen listens to is indicative of any deep-seated disorder–until now.

According to’ a recent study by the Australasian Psychiatry journal, a teen’s music tastes can be a useful diagnostic indicator for mental health and behavioral issues, from sexuality (pop) to violent tendencies (rap) and suicide & depression (heavy metal). Doctors are being urged to ask teens what their tastes are, to determine if they’re at risk. Read More →

The Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) has put together a toolkit for libraries called Library Accessiblity – What You Need to Know. There are fifteen specific tipsheets, covering areas from’ patrons with’ cognitive, mental, or emotional illnesses to patrons who need assistive technologies and patrons with physical disabilities.

Many, if not all, the tips apply to Teen Services. For example, instead of asking the age or grade of a patron, ask for the name of a favorite book to determine reading level. Encourage teens with disabilities to volunteer. Reach out to teens who are homebound or are in’ institutions.

How often are teens criticized for not engaging in “proper reading”? According to a recent study by the UK’s National Year of Reading consortium, 45% of teen readers have been told off for their reading habits.

The researchers, through their “Read Up, Fed Up” report of British 11-14 year olds, also found the following:

  • There is an explosion of digital reading, with four out of ten top teen reads being online
  • Teens also love reading film scripts and song lyrics
  • Traditional literature is by no means lost, with Anne Frank’s Diary ranking just one place below Harry Potter nearly 60 years after it was written
  • A massive 80% of teens have actually written their own story, film, play or song

Read More →

Many librarians are probably familiar with designing programs that build developmental assets. We help build youth assets like leadership, helping others, and succeeding in school so that there is less of a chance that teens will make destructive choices such as vandalism and drugs.

You may even have heard of asset building in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMORPGs) and Multi User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) such as World of Warcraft, Entropia Universe, Teen Second Life and more. This article in the May Harvard Business Review, Leadership’s Online Labs, talks about how real world transference can occur as a result of game play – from being leaders in online games to being leaders in the work world. Read More →

Pew Internet in American Life logoToday the Pew Internet in American Life Project released a new report titled Writing, Technology, and Teens. The opening paragraph of the report states:

Teenagers’ lives are filled with writing. All teens write for school, and 93% of teens say they write for their own pleasure. Most notably, the vast majority of teens have eagerly embraced written communication with their peers as they share messages on their social network pages, in emails and instant messages online, and through fast-paced thumb choreography on their cell phones. Parents believe that their children write more as teens than they did at that age.

The core of the report focuses on what teens have to say about their own writing practices. The findings in the report span teen writing practices in and out of school and look at what mode teens use to write – long-hand or computer, the most common types of writing, and the impact of technology on teen writing behaviors.

Read More →

The Media Management Center at Northwestern University released a report this month about the online news experiences of teens. Titled, If It Catches My Eye, there is a lot for librarians to consider in this document.

In the Implications and Recommendations section of the report the authors write:

What if news enterprises thought of the status quo – the current habits and preferences of teens – not as an unchangeable verdict on the news but as an opportunity and a challenge? What if they decided to:

  • Aggressively court teens where they are now and then work over time to fan whatever sparks of interest they may have in news into a more robust flame of interest in various kinds of news?
  • Make a special effort to encourage – and even increase the number of – teens who consider it part of their identity to follow and talk about the news?

I read that section and thought to myself, what if librarians changed “news” within that section and inserted the word libraries instead? It would then read:

What if libraries thought of the status quo – the current habits and preferences of teens – not as an unchangeable verdict on libraries but as an opportunity and a challenge? What if they decided to:

  • Aggressively court teens where they are now and then work over time to fan whatever sparks of interest they may have in libraries into a more robust flame of interest in various kinds of information?
  • Make a special effort to encourage – and even increase the number of – teens who consider it part of their identity to follow and talk about the library?

OK, there was one change that went from news to information instead of news to libraries, but the point remains the same. What’s that point? We can’t simply say, “Oh, teens aren’t interested in libraries, that’s just the way it is.” Instead we have to find out what does interest teens, discover where they go to get support for those interests, and then join them in those places.

In terms of joining teens where they are, If It Catches My Eye includes recommendations for connecting with teens that librarians can use. Along with recommending to go where the teens already are the report recommends:

  • Using humor and a sense of fun – the report mentions news stories about oddities as a way to accomplish this. In the library context why not focus on connecting teens to resources like the Guinness Book of World Records recently launched social networking site as a way to harness their sense of fun and sense of humor? This connection helps librarians to openly acknowledge what teens are interested in, and while acknowledging that it’s possible to give teens some tips on being safe while in online social networking environments.
  • Creating widgets for tools that teens already use – an earlier blog post discussed the idea of widgetizing homework for teens. The findings of this report support that idea and help demonstrate why it’s important for libraries to create information gathering widgets for the tools that teens use.
  • Enlisting support from parents and teachers – this is something librarians frequently work to accomplish. But, doesn’t the technology that is available help create success in this area? For example, doesn’t the need of parents and teachers to learn about the technology teens are using give librarians an opportunity to become central to that learning?
  • Providing features/functionalities that teens like and use – for example, teens love to share what they find on the web with friends, how can libraries find ways to help them to do that information exchange successfully and easily?

There’s much more in the report that connects to what librarians work to do with/for teens every day. Check it out and see what you can extract to use in your day-to-day work with the teens in your community.