“A year ago YALSA launched the 30 days of positive uses of social networking project. Every day throughout October three YALSA bloggers posted ideas and information about using social networking in the school and public library. The postings were in response to the U.S. Congress Deleting Online Predators Act and the realization that librarians working with teens needed support and information on using social networking with teens.
Now, one year later, the same YALSA bloggers are each going to write an update post, during the month of October, about the world of social networking, teens, etc.”
At the beginning of this month, Linda Braun posted an up to date summary of where social networking is at on the radar of Congress and where it could be with libraries. A reader left a comment to the post that said in part, “I am still on the hunt for the example that directly engages kids in being media-savvy.”

Here is a list of sites that might help and that engage youth in fun and creative ways to be safe online. Videos of real teens, animated videos, audio clips, comics, and interactive spaces that work to get the message across of being safe online can be found here. This list is not meant to be comprehensive. Other examples are welcome, especially to the YALSA del.icio.us page and from your library!

-Links to other resources and teen friendly info. about safety

Building a Safer Internet
-Interesting concept for a ratings board. Something to keep your eye on-the blog has just started. Do we want our sites to be rated? By whom?

Common Sense Media
-What to watch for (and watch out for). Aimed toward parents but uses a layout and interactive games friendly for youth.

-Uses videos and comics with characters that have 3D personalities

Teen Angels
-Teens trained by law enforcement to spread the word through projects and presentations

My Pop Studio

-Especially the Digital Studio section, teens learn how to have safe online relationships

-While this is aimed at families and younger kids, I included it for the array of definitions about various aspects of online safety

Don’t Believe the Type
-Urges teens to think before they post and talks about safety information related to digital cameras, web cams, and microphones

Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens>
-A booklet by Nancy Willard to teens that provides helpful tips for readers and their peers

i-Safe, X-Block
-For and by teens. Contests, chatrooms, and peer mentoring regarding internet safety

-Computer games and scenarios for teens

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

According to Congressman, Mark Kirk (R-IL). Librarians are out of touch ‘with over 400 members of Congress who are representing the American people.’he stated in a recent interview by SLJ in regards to the revival of DOPA and as posted here by Linda Braun.

I wonder how librarians can be more ‘in touch’ with Mark Kirk and other Congress members that represent the American people. I wonder if we (librarians/Congress members) are really saying the same thing (it is important that we protect our youth) but because we are ‘out of touch’ with each other, we don’t perhaps know what the other is really doing.

Have librarians extended the invitation to a Congressperson to their library to show them the impact they have had on informing the community about various social networking tools (see Sunnyside Teen Council YouTube video).

Have librarians had classes on internet safety for parents and teens? Have librarians had candid dialogue with teens who have been either victims or bullies through using technology as a means to hurt someone? Please share if you have. I think there might be a lot of room for getting in touch with Congress members.

Thank you to SLJ for taking the time to interview a representative of the American people. It gives librarians one more opportunity to respond and speak out to how they positively represent youth in their libraries through social networking.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper wants MySpace to install ‘parental consent programming.’ This would mean that without a parent’s approval, those under eighteen would not be able to use this site as well as similar social networking sites. This is only one of many proposals cropping up on a state by state case. Again, as with DOPA, while the intention might be to protect children, how will this legislation help to educate children to use this and similar sites responsibly? How does this legislation even attempt to understand the many positive uses of social networking sites? Hopefully the State Library of North Carolina will respond as they will be contacted. What is going on in your state? Please share and check/add to the YALSA wiki.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #25.

Social networking technologies often allow for people to express their own opinions. A teen can set up their own blog in less than five minutes, post a comment on a forums board, or share what materials they are reading through LibraryThing. Check out SLJs recent article and podcast on LibraryThing here.

People who read and contribute to blogs, forums boards, wikis, etc. are being given the choice to be exposed to information that they might not otherwise come across as readily. Is it not slightly ironic, that DOPA targets school and public libraries, which are places that historically protect the freedom to access information?

It is my opinion that there are many parallels between Banned Books and freedom in the digital world. Making connections between the two, as well as being familiar with sites such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation might help us understand why DOPA is not the beginning and is not going to be the end of legislation affecting the digital world. It might help us to want to inform the teens we work with who use these technolgies of what the bigger picture is and not just be reactive or hope it will go away.

I wonder if Teen Tech Week might be one of many places to continue the dialogue of freedoms in the digital world and why/how it is just as important as protecting our freedom to read books.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #24.

Social networking technologies support young people’s active ability to learn on their own without having an education system imposed on them. Many mission statements of school and public libraries involve, empowering individuals. Helene Blowers, Public Services Technology Director for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, has an excellent discussion on control and empowerment in this blog post from last month.

If DOPA would have passed in its current form, control would overwhelmingly outweigh the innate ability for teens to learn and create on their own through social networking.

Recent Library Student graduate, Jami Schwarzwalder’s podcast on: Meet the Millennials: Risk Takers and Rule Makers is an engaging listen as to how social networking tools influenced her life as a millennial and how they empowered her to actively learn on her own, and bring that knowledge to libraries.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #20.

My colleague, who teaches MySpace classes for parents around the library system, has had a lot of positive results. Teens show up for these presentations as well, give their input, and a lot of great conversation results.

Some of the parents that have attended these workshops at the library include the following:

One couple’s daughter was raped several years ago by a man that will soon get out of prison. They attended the class to learn how they could keep their daughter safe online so that she could not be found via MySpace.

One father attended a workshop because he wanted to be in the same ballpark as his teens with technology; to have a way to communicate with them, by finding out what it is they are doing online.

Parents who want to allow their daughter freedom and flexibility but also honesty and safety in communicating online.

Here is the handout my colleague uses for his workshops which is also on theYALSA Teen Tech Week wiki.

If DOPA had passed in its current form, parents would probably not consider the library a resource to help guide them through the social networking sites that their teens are using at home. Teens would be less likely to participate in a dialogue at school and public libraries on using these sites in a responsible manner. Education within the school and public library setting can deter predators-not ignorance and not forcing these sites to only be accessed at home.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #17.

YA author Brent Hartinger generously donated his time to talk about social networking issues and DOPA. If DOPA had passed, many teens would be unable to engage in opportunities to connect with authors such as Brent. Schools and public libraries miss out on being able to connect authors in places teens are at and comfortable in communicating.

1. When did you decide to start using social networking tools such as blogs and MySpace? Did you have an online presence and belong to any fanfiction communities, participate on forums, etc. long before you started publishing books?

Hmmm, interestingly, this whole online community thing sort of coincided with my emergence as a writer. I sold my first novel in 2001, and I immediately started putting together my website. I was definitely connected before that, but not nearly in the way I am now. It’s interesting to think about how connected I’d be if I wasn’t an author. Trying to sell books, and making myself available to readers, that’s definitely a motivation, partly because it’s so darn much fun, but also because, hey, this is how I make my living, and I need to eat!

2. How has having an online presence through these social networking tools allowed you to connect with teens and other authors or fans in ways that you wouldn’t have been able to?

Oh, it’s amazing! I respond to dozens of emails, and chat with at least another dozen people via IM every single week. And then there’s blog postings, and responses to my postings, which I always respond to. I swear, every single day, some new opportunity comes to me via the internet. Which is great, even if I’m chronically way over-extended.

I happen to be an author who does a lot of “live” events–I tour for every book, and speak at a lot of conferences and schools, something like 60 events a year. But even with all that, I don’t have nearly the “live” contact with readers that I have online, which is definitely in the thousands of people every year.

3. What is your criteria for ‘friending’ people on your MySpace page?

Well, I’m pretty liberal. But if I sense that it’s spam, someone trying to sell me something, I say no. Frankly, that really annoys me. I love to sell books too, but only if readers come to me! I’m an opt-in kinda guy.

4. There has been criticism of the scene(s) in Geography Club where Kevin and Russell, online friends first, meet in person. If teens do want to meet their online friend in person, what would you recommend?

Keep in mind that, in the book, Russel discovers that he and Kevin definitely go to the same school. So they “know” each other, and they know they’re both teenagers–they just don’t know each other’s names. That scene was also written in 1999, long before we became hyper-aware of these things.

In real life, I would always absolutely recommend meeting in a public place, like a mall, and definitely going with friends. Don’t EVER go anywhere with anyone alone on that first meeting. Believe me, there are lot of sickos out there–and most of them don’t necessarily look like sickos!

5. If the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) had passed in its current form, and teens possibly would be unable to access your MySpace site from the school or public library, what does that mean for you?

That would be unforunate, because I do hear from a lot of folks from school. Mostly, I’d think it would just be sad, because I’d like to see individual schools pass their own policies on these things, based on the needs of their own students. If they must mandate anything, how about some kind of reasonable, non-hysterical online education? (With the funding to pay for it, of course!)

6. Do you have any idea how many young adult authors have MySpace pages?

More and more. Obviously everyone has limits as to what they can do in a day, but I happen to think it’s almost required. In fact, I often say that if you’re uncomfortable dealing with people, and don’t want to have anything to do with anything online, you might consider another profession than that writer of teen books. These days, it’s almost a requirement that you be accessible to fans, at least if you want to sell books. But honestly, it’s the best part of my job, and I didn’t think it would be. I mean, fan email? How could that EVER get old?

7. Anything else you want to add?
Well, I’m pretty proud of my website, which

I think it pretty unique and is hopefully an entertainment experience in itself.

Here’s my MySpace profile

And my Live Journal blog

And I also contribute to another blog, http://asifnews.blogspot.com, one about issues of censorship and intellectual freedom, for a group I helped found called Authors Supporting Intellectual Freedom (or AS IF!)

Much thanks to Brent for his time!

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #13.

Second Life(SL) is a 3D virtual world for adults age 18 and over where one can create an avatar, interact with others, and design the world they want to live in. Over 100 universities and colleges are involved in SL to offer their students a learning experience through this world.

Teen Second Life is for teens, 13-17 and is separate from adults because of safety reasons. Teens can own land, run their own business, design clothes, create machinima, bring their favorite story scene to life through build and design skills, and learn about social issues such as child pornography and sex trafficking which was what GlobalKids did through their camp in Second Life this summer with teens. Schools such as Suffern Middle School in New York, is aligning curriculum standards for their 8th graders with Teen Second Life, and will have a presence to serve their students hopefully by next month.

The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in NC and the Alliance Library System in IL have announced a partnership last week to collaborate on library services for teens through Teen Second Life. The project will involve a collaboration with libraries and other youth serving organizations to reach teens where they are at and keep the library relevant to their needs. To find out what libraries are already doing on Second Life with adults, check out: www.infoisland.org Many YALSA members are already involved in Second Life with incredible and tremendous talent and are involved with the teen library project as well. The Alternative Teen Services blog links to Second Life under their ‘connect’ list.

While background checks are required for any adult working with teens on Second Life, if DOPA in its current form, had passed, teens at public and school libraries that are offering Second Life as a program, might be unable to access it or at least the rich world of communication tools that surround the virtual world such as blogs and wikis that foster collaboration and information for projects.

Developmental needs such as community support, motivation to learn, and cultural competence are perfect combinations to build upon through Second Life.

For more information on the library project, or to get involved, check out www.infoisland.org. To find out what other educators are doing in Second Life, go to the SimTeach wiki at: www.simteach.com.

It’s not too late to participate in Info Island’s open house going on this weekend in Second Life. Create an avatar and join the fun! Audio presentations will be archived on OPAL

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #11.

Many libraries are offering gaming programs for teens on a regular basis and have been for awhile. This year’s ‘Get Active @ Your Library’ theme for Teen Read Week provides a perfect fit for DDR, which many libraries are participating in during this week.

Librarians have also worked to build community around gaming programs through social networking tools.

  • The sheer number of comments from teens on the Ann Arbor District Library gaming blog is amazing.
  • Another site to check out is the Gamefest site from the Bloomington Public Library in Illinois which again builds community around gaming by using social networking tools such as Flickr and linking to local gaming conventions which use discussion boards and blogs to communicate their events.
  • Last year, during a DDR event at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Illinois, Aaron Schmidt wrote about ‘harvesting content while they were there.’ By making Audacity available, teens recorded materials reviews during the gaming event, including books, to later be posted to the library web site.
  • Many libraries are using MySpace pages or blogs to host videos, photos, and announcements for their gaming events. One teen created his own MySpace page, boasting how he would be the winner of my library’s summer gaming tournament.

Consider connecting with the social networking resources that are already in your community to let them know about your gaming events. Local gaming conventions, Teen Clubs that offer video gaming nights, DDR Freak allows people to post about their gaming events-and teens do check this board, and websites for specific games often have a place to post about upcoming tournaments and events through a discussion board.

If DOPA passes, opportunities to connect with millennials who are gamers with the library, will be very difficult.

Join the MacArthur Foundation discussion on gaming from October 16-November 3; Everywhere Now: Three Dialogues on Kids, Games, and Learning.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and
information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and
libraries. Here’s positive use #6.

The fact that social networking can be done in a library, might be stating
the obvious. However, if DOPA passes, the library as a relevant place for teens will be significantly effected.

The Library as a place where social networking can occur is also important
for another reason. As Beth Gallaway’s MySpace? YourSpace? WhoseSpace? post indicated, “Banning isn’t the answer. Educating is.” How effective are libraries going to be to empower teens in making good online choices if the tools to do so can’t be used, accessed, or played with in a library?

In a May 2006 interview about
DOPA, Henry Jenkins stated, “These sites play a key role in youth culture

because they give youth a space to hang out amongst friends and peers, share cultural artifacts (like links to funny websites, comments about TV shows) and work out an image of how they see themselves.”

Giving youth a space to hang out, to share, to work out their identity-is
this not already part of what we do to serve their needs with our programs and services? It only makes sense then that libraries continue to be a place where not only can social networking tools be accessed, but helped to be used creatively and responsibly.

DOPA is pretty good at pointing to ‘that predator’ which might conjure up images of an adult preying on children that need to be protected. But what about teens that are using social networking tools to be hurtful to one
another? Sending threatening text messages to one another, sharing email
passwords and then changing them in order to force control over another, or
teens using cell phones to monitor each others whereabouts every minute of
the day. In the context of dating violence among teens, use of these

technologies in this way is prevalent.

Again, the Library as place to give teens the tools to use social networking positively, know when the tools are being used inappropriately and what they can do about it is important.

Banning their use in a school or public library is not going to empower teens and make issues of power and control with social networking go away.

If DOPA is passed, many teens will not find the library to be a relevant space
for their needs nor a place that can help them through this increasingly
interactive digital world.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki