A few recently released studies on teens, sex, and technology have some folks all a-flutter. ZOMG! Teh sex! Before any of us use the results to defend our hard line on MySpace or cell phones in libraries, though, we should look a little bit more closely at what these studies–and so many like them–can really tell us about our teens.

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Terms of Service (ToS) are something lots of us encounter every day.’  Probably, few people actually read what these agreements actually say before signing up for a web site or installing a new piece of software.’  But, because of what happened last week, I’m wondering if perhaps we need to be more aware of what these agreements say and also converse with teens a bit about what it means when they agree to ToS for a web site or piece of software.

The reason that this became something to consider over the past week, is because of the verdict turned in in the Megan Meier cyberbullying case. As readers might know, Read More →

As you all’  probably know there is an election this November, and this year’s election process seems to be quite different from previous years. More candidates have made an effort to create social networks and be visible online. This has made it feel like the voters are closer to the candidates than previous races, and caused many individuals of all ages to try to spread the word about the various candidates in places that aren’t the best for sharing this information.’  I’ve witnessed an increase in debates recently’  at work, on the radio and even on one of YALSA’s listservs.

As librarians it’s our job to provide information about all sides of all issues along with information about registering to vote.’  What we sometimes forget is that since our society is a democracy, we must let everyone make decisions about a candidate on their own, which when you feel passionately about something can be hard to do. While it can be difficult, we can’t share our personal convictions with others because we have to have faith in the system and the people to make the decision that is best for them. Imagine how hard it must be for teens who do not get a chance to vote in this year’s election to keep their opinions about which candidate is best fit for a position. While we want to encourage them to be interested in the election process, we also can help them find healthy places to talk about the candidates. Read More →

Yesterday morning the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsored a session titled Your Brain on DOPA.’  The program was designed to give attendees an opportunity to find out:

  • What is happening with federal and state legislation related to social networking (and with technology in general).’  John Morris, General Counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology presented this part of the program.
  • What current research says about child and teen use of online tools in the areas of cyberbullying and predation. Dr. Michele Ybarra, President of Internet Solutions for Kids presented on this topic.
  • How libraries can educate their communities about the positive impact of social networking. This was the portion of the session that I presented.

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Today when I read of the indictment of the woman whose harassment of a teen girl on MySpace led to the girl’s suicide, I wanted to cheer. The indictment was not however brought by the state in which the crime took place, the state couldn’t find enough evidence to indict locally, it was brought by the federal government. As the article in The New York Times states:

…Because MySpace, a unit of Fox Interactive Media, is based in Beverly Hills, Calif., and its server is here, federal prosecutors decided to wield a federal statute that is generally used to prosecute fraud that occurs across state lines.

The statute applies in the case, the indictment says, because by violating the user agreement of MySpace, which prohibits phony accounts, Ms. Drew was seeking information “to further a tortuous act, namely, intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

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If legislation passes by the full Senate and the House, North Carolina could be the first state to place parental consent requirements for those under 18 to join MySpace and similar sites.
I wonder what this does for the kids who might not be telling the truth about their age online for good reasons. What if they’re in danger at home and being online is safer in some ways? Chances are, even if the parental consent law is passed, the relationship problems kids already have could be put more in jeopardy.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Attorneys general from the following eight states have requested MySpace to provide information on how many sex offenders are using MySpace and where they live:

  • North Carolina
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania

May 29 was the deadline given for the requests to be responded to by News Corp., owners of MySpace.

Continuing to educate teens on using social networking sites responsibly was conveyed by a librarian that was interviewed on the news regarding this story. It is great that a library is seen as a source of information for social networking sites and how libraries are using social networking in positive ways.

What do people think of the attorneys general request of MySpace?

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

After Labor Day, twelve presidential candidates will be physically present at a college campus and accessible online through MySpace in interactive town halls reports USA Today. The discussion will be web casted so that MySpace members can submit their questions as well. Host a library program where teens can watch the web cast and participate as MySpace members to ask questions.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

You might want to consider using a Twitter widget on your library site/MySpace page to give updates for what materials teens at your library/you are reading/watching/viewing. It can be updated as often as you want. Good tie in for YKN @ Your Library for summer reading. Surprise readers with hints to events too. Might even want to surprise readers as to what librarians really do (on the job XD). 140 characters.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

You get a phone call from someone that tells you their son/daughter is skipping school and they want to know if they are at your library. You get a phone call from someone that claims they are the mother/father of a teen that ran away from home and they have a search warrant from an officer to prove it. Someone claiming to be a parent comes into your library and says, “I want to know if my son/daughter has been in your library today.”

How do you respond and why?

Do we automatically trust the person on the phone or that the person at the desk is indeed the parent of who they say they are? How much responsibility do we need to take on to determine that? We trust an adult who says who they are yet at the same time we often teach teens on social networking sites such as MySpace to not trust most anyone they meet online? What is it about someone that says they are the parent of a teen (if you really don’t know) that we believe them? Or is that not usually the case?

I look to the column series in VOYA, How can we help? Particularly Lynn Evarts, The School Library as Sanctuary, (http://tinyurl.com/2b6wyw), December 2006 where she talks about reaching out to teens that might seek the library as a place of comfort. If I hear about a teen running away, my automatic response in my head is that, maybe they left a bad situation, how can I as a librarian give them the tools to get them out of that situation? ‘Get them out’ not necessarily meaning they need to be in contact with the police, but ‘get them out’ in a way that gives them some choice and responsibility to take care of themselves. I think that by automatically trusting the adult that comes to us, negates any possible relationship we can build with a teen, even if it might only be for five minutes.

While I am not saying that librarians have some special connection with teens that security and police can never possibly have, I am saying that we do have a way we can connect with teens. What if we give them resources of local runaway shelters that may be able to work with them, because like with the police, and with library security, we have made a connection with people that work with teens? We know where those shelters are in town. Staff at the shelters know us by name when we call them because we have made it a point to visit them and explain why. What if that could make all the difference? What if that would make the job of a police person easier? What if we can do our jobs and fulfill our responsibilities at the same time and most important, give the teen back the control of their life that they probably need most right now?

This is why I think it is good for people to have an appreciation and maybe even an understanding of playing video games-especially those who make policy for our libraries. It’s about understanding there are other options. It’s about not being afraid to take risks if a risk for your organization might mean putting some muscle behind the core values of your library that you already have established and available on your web site.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki