We’re almost to 2013! Though I know you’re probably busy with end-of-year plans, projects, and tasks, I wanted to tell you about some recent news, research, and innovation you might find informative or inspiring for your library work.

  • A study recently published in the Journal of Educational Computing Research surveyed middle school students on their experiences with cyberbullying and found that those who engage are most often both victims and perpetrators. They looked at reporting behaviors, too, and found that even when students report cyberbullying, it rarely stops. If you’ve been addressing only one end of cyberbullying, you may want to consider changing up your programming to look at why it is that students both engage and suffer from it, and your teen advisory group might be interested in discussing methods that reporting and prevention programs can be made more effective.
    Holfield, Brett, and Grabe, Mark. (2012). Middle school students’ perceptions of and responses to cyber bullying. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 46(4), 395-413.
  • It’s that time of year – rather, it’s been that time of year since before Halloween – when all the ads and commercials you see have a Christmas twist to them. Have you seen this viral video that parodies the Coca Cola bears to draw attention to the harmful health effects of drinking too much soda? Called The Real Bears and sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the video features a song by Jason Mraz (no doubt to hook people who don’t know what it’s about) and shows a family of bears slowly getting sicker and sicker as they make soda more of a part of their diet. Have your teens seen it? With a lot of strong reactions in both directions, the video might make for a great conversation starter in one of your advisory groups, or it could prompt some programming or displays on health and nutrition. Read More →
  • American Libraries recently posted an article about programming for homeschooled kids and their families. There are a lot of great ideas there that you should take a look at, but very few of the ideas are focused on teens. Like any library media specialist knows, teens need to have their reading, research, and library skills in check before college, and those being homeschooled are no different.

    In addition to inviting those teens to your regular programming and events, consider doing things for them during the lull of the day, when everyone else is in school. Not all parents who homeschool are necessarily schooled in how to use library databases, scholarly journals, and online media for research projects, so perhaps a small group might appreciate a workshop similar to the ones high school students get from their librarians. You could even designate a special hour a week for drop-in lessons.

    On a similar note, homeschools don’t employ full-time college counselors, but you probably have a circulating and non-circulating collection of test prep books, college guides, and more. Another unique daytime program you can offer, then, is a college workshop. Invite some current college students, whose schedules also allow them to have some free hours during the day, to answer questions about local schools and essay topics, and see if any of your regular homework tutors can volunteer to come in and help with the process. Read More →

    A few days ago the Pew Internet and American Life Project released their latest report on teens and social networking. The document is filled with up-to-date data that anyone working with teens will want to take a look at in order to better understand teen use of and engagement in online social environments. The Pew report also provides a look into the role adults play in the lives of teens who are a part of the social networking world.

    Check out the Storify created that captures some of the ideas presented in the report and what people are saying about it via the web and social media.
    Read More →

    There’s no doubt about it, copyright in 2008 is a complicated thing. It’s no longer a black and white issue of simple right and wrong. Today there are lots of permutations of what is and isn’t legal. Teens see clips from Saturday Night Life on YouTube. If NBC was not the original poster of the content that should be illegal. But, because NBC might see the YouTube posting as a way to market their content, they sometimes look the other way. So, how is a teen to know what’s legal and what’s not legal when it comes to copyright?

    A new report from Microsoft finds that when parents teach a teen about copyright the teen is more likely to pay attention. The report states:

    Parents play a critical role for teens. Teens report their parents are their main source of information about what they can and cannot do online. Reinforcing the critical role of parents is the fact that some of the strongest deterrents to stealing and illegally sharing content are the thoughts of potential consequences.

    Doesn’t this then mean that it’s up to librarians and other educators to help teach parents about copyright – what the rules are and how to find out about them? How do librarians do that? Will a workshop for parents on copyright work? Not necessarily, getting parents to come to a session on that topic might not be a big draw. But, what about:

    • Teens creating videos on copyright, posting those videos on YouTube, letting their parents know about the project?
    • The school and public library working together to provide materials and information to parents during open house events, parent teacher conferences, etc.?
    • A podcast interview with a local attorney that is geared to parents?

    If we want teens to be smart about copyright we have to make sure that the adults in their lives are also smart about copyright.

    The Microsoft report contains other interesting findings related to teen downloading of content, and what teens do and don’t know about the legal issues related to downloading. Check out the report. Start a discussion with the teens in your library. Do they agree with the report findings? Do they have questions about copyright. Find out what they have to say.

    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

    In a May 2006 interview on DOPA and MySpace with Henry Jenkins and danah boyd, Jenkins states that, “Parents face serious challenges in helping their children negotiate through these new online environments. They receive very little advice about how to build a constructive relationship with media within their families or how to help their offspring make ethical choices as participants in these online worlds.”
    At my library, my colleagues are offering a ‘MySpace for Parents‘ class where they teach parents how to set up their own MySpace account, and what to look for when their teens set up their own page. They also include resources in the workshop for further reading and information on other social networking sites the library uses.

    What are other libraries doing to help parents help their teens ‘negotiate these online environments’? Or any ideas of what else we could be doing? Even if DOPA passes, parents will still need to know this information.

    Posted by Kelly Czarnecki