By Janet Ingraham Dwyer, Youth Services Library Consultant
State Library of Ohio
I’m sharing notes from the sessions I attended at the 2012 Public Library Association Conference in Philadelphia in March, in hopes that this information will be useful to the youth services community and others. This is my last write-up from PLA 2012. All these session notes may be found on the State Library of Ohio blog.
This session by library consultant, blogger, teen advocate, and past YALSA president Linda Braun covered some general trends and realities in teens’ use of technology, and pointed to some specific apps and games that are popular with teens (at least at the time of the workshop!). Braun stressed that teens “need to make it their own”. They are interested in discovering for themselves and learning from each other what is out there. She indicated that teens are now using Twitter, and like that it is more private than Facebook. She argued that our library Facebook pages and YouTube channels are “making them come to you”, not “going where they are”, but that we need to reach out to teens and to the community to let them know we have services and supports for teens and technology. We should talk about how this is valuable to the teen, not how it is valuable to the library.
In terms of the general trends, cell phones and mobile devices are certainly dominant. 234 million Americans over age 13 now use cell phones. Teens are more active on mobile devices and less on PCs, and apps are huge. How can we circulate apps in the library? Consider having teens review apps for you.
Facebook is neither new nor passé with teens. If teens have something in their timeline they don’t want people to see, they should delete or hide it; this is a great opportunity for librarians and others to talk with teens about privacy and the digital footprint. Google Hangouts, like Skype, can have up to 10 people in a video/text chat room at a time. Google Docs can be accessed, created, and edited from within a Google Hangout, so this capacity can encourage teens to collaborate on projects.
Some specific games, apps, and sites Braun mentioned include Tumblr, Instagram, DrawSomething (a creative, engaging, interactive social game), Where’s My Water (teens love this game even though it is marketed to younger kids), Popbooth (a photobooth for mobile devices that allows you to make a strip of photos as in an old-school arcade photobooth, manipulate, and share them), and hacking programs that teach users how to code, such as Hackasaurus, Scratch, and Extranormal.
Braun discussed the significance of online curation. Teens enjoy sharing and gathering information together. Pinterest and Storify were mentioned as fun, useful tools to organize and share content.
Finally, Braun suggested a few resources for librarians to (attempt to) keep up with technology developments and new apps, including Digital Shift, Mashable, and the YALSA blog’s App of the Week.
A PDF of the slideshow from this presentation is available at http://placonference.org/programs.