Friday, April 18, 2008

TLA - Friday April 18, 2008

Today I attended an excellent presentation on Social Networking Among Digital Natives: Library Issues. An accurate, descriptive title for a well organized and thought provoking presentation. Although the presentation was aimed at school and public librarians who have contact with children and teens, these are future academic library users, thus what they know and how they use social networking tools is of tremendous interest to me as an academic librarian.

The issue: "teens are cruising the information highway without brakes while adults are struggling to get out of first gear".

The presenter gave the best definition of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 I've ever heard. Web 1.0 is one directional information transfer from a website (source) to the user while Web 2.0 is bi-directional information transfer, participatory, and mobile.

The broad issue here is how does technology influence behavior?
- supports disinhibition: the perception of invisibility and lack of tangible feedback regarding consequences
- supports exploration of identity (remember, this presentation is focused on digital natives)
- a factor in the development of online social norms
- an avenue for social manipulation
- puts youth at risk; the higher the level of individual risk along a continuum from saavy to naive to vulnerable to high risk youth, the greater the probability that young person's vulnerability to danger

Tactics for increasing online safety that AREN'T working--
- fear based tactics (they're not based on fact and are dismissed by YA's who understand adults' lack of knowledge of technology and their (correct) understanding that most strangers are safe
- reliance on filters is not effective; "homework" question for the audience: which major filtering company has a close relationship with the American Family Association (an ultra conservative group)?
- sole reliance on adults: adults often don't know what to do and teens don't trust adults to know

What works is teaching children and teens to make good decisions on their own by creating simple rules for children that they can carry with them into teen-hood (and I would add young adult-hood).
- effective supervision and monitoring of social networking activities by adults
- CIPA compliance
- appropriate educational use of social networking
- use of technology resources to support safety
- allowing appropriate filter administration by front-line adults

The content was substantial and well supported by authoritative evidence. Nancy Willard, who gave the bulk of the presentation, is executive director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, is a recognized authority on issues related to the safe and responsible use of the Internet. The website she has created to disseminate her work is at On her site, in early summer she is planning to deliver an expanded version of her presentation in the form of a narrated power point presentation meant for use in educator training.

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