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So who’s using social software – Teens!  (well, not only teens, but for today’s purposes that’s who we’re talking about!)
Brain Development
Surging hormones are often blamed for adolescent anxieties and behaviors – this is an issue, but more & more very recent neurological research shows that teenage brain development plays a major role in the behaviors, actions and decisions of teens.  Spurts in brain development explain why kids begin to care about different things, act in different ways and take risks as they make the transition into adulthood.  When I work w/ public librarians who serve teens I encourage them to think about the teenage brain as being “under construction.”    Some interesting facts, in our presentation are: The brain’s frontal lobe undergoes major development during the teen years.  That’s the part of the brain that controls social activity & that’s the time of life when kids start to care more about friends and what other people care about them. Social networking, then, is one way to address this development and the developmental need to be with others – to be social The frontal lobe also controls decision making and risk calculation, so it’s no surprise that teens are much more likely to take risks than adults whose brains are fully developed.  This is why it’s important to be clear to teens about our expectations – they may not have developed the skills necessary to make good decisions.
Great information about teen brain development – Frontline program from a few years ago.  Full program available (in separate chapters) online.
Let’s look at the statistics (read from slides)
Savvy – they know how to get this information (need to make sure that this info. comes from reputable sources)
Only 9% of teens surveyed last year completely agree that the library has information in the format that they need and that the content/collection meets their needs.  This tells us that they are looking for information in formats that we would consider nontraditional and that we need to stay current and meet them where they are.  (Good news – assistance from a librarian is available when they need it.)
This service – this way of communicating – is not going away.  Teens will demand this type of service and they are our future tax payers.  If they see the library as irrelevant when they are young, they are less likely to vote for library issues when they are of voting age – or they are less likely to take their children to the library for story times, etc.
Builds critical thinking skills and requires an advanced level of literacy
Teens with common interests (such as music, gaming, books) are finding one another – often the kids who were loners or ostracized
There are blogs for teens with disabilities, learning disabilities, health issues – they communicate with one another and help each other cope. And it helps with an important developmental process – figuring out who they are Requires reading and writing skills, so blogging is improving literacy – there is value in reading, writing and critical thinking skills
So – we’ve talked about characteristics of teens, teen brain development & how they use technology (esp. the internet & social networking)  How does all of this, combined, affect public libraries?  How has teen services changed in the past few years?  (address photo…)
More libraries are providing programs especially for teens – and more libraries are dedicating staff (or staff time) to teen services.
Teens ARE going to libraries and using our materials and resources.  This info. could affect collection development – they are borrowing items for personal use (personal interests, recreational reading – fiction, novels, graphic novels)
They are very clear about what they want: more interesting items (graphic novels), access to technology, programs, extended hours and a comfortable place to hang out.  Some of these issues, of course (hours, materials) affect library budgets – but I encourage you to think about ways that you can address these needs without spending a lot of money.  Can you add free programs (ask the teens what they want!) to your schedule?  Can you provide a comfortable chair – even a bean bag chair – near their materials?  (Story about College Library reading room… bean bags)
So – what are the challenges…
Acceptable use & behavior, of course, is always an issue with teens.  Teen behavior is an issue that’s getting a lot of attention in library press.  It’s a real issue that we all face and it IS a challenge.  (not enough time to address today, but here are some ideas to get you started thinking about ways that you’ll address these difficult issues in your libraries.)
First – remember that these teens are STRESSED & that their brains are still figuring out techniques for dealing with the anxiety in their lives.
This is not just a problem for libraries – this is a societal problem.  An organization of police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, crime survivors and other law enforcement personnel have called for public officials to adopt a 4-part plan to reduce crimes committed by teens and to help young people learn the skills needed to become responsible adults. 
First step – addresses the fact that mischief and crime happens between the hours of 3:00 & 6:00.  The hours between the time that school lets out and dinnertime.  Stats. Support quality after-school programs, such as programs at the Boys & Girls clubs, programs at school, at the Y.  In many communities the library plays this role by default – there is no other place for teens to go.
2nd step – start early.  Start when children are young.  In one MI study, 3 & 4 year olds from low income families who participated in strong preschool programs were 1/5 as likely to be chronic lawbreakers by age 27 (when compared to children who didn’t participate in preschool programs).  Amazing – takes my breath away.
3rd step – when children are continually disruptive it’s a warning signal that it’s time to start looking for causes and seek solutions.  A Montreal study shows that providing disruptive 1st & 2nd grade boys (what about the girls?) with counseling & other services cut in half the odds that they would later be in special classes, rated disruptive by their teachers or peers or required to repeat a grade in school – this study shows that the risk of future violence is sharply reduced when there is early intervention.
& finally, the 4th step – Being abused or neglected multiplies the risk that a child will grow up to be violent.  As a society, we must act before abuse takes place to expand parenting-coaching classes and to provide family support programs that prevent children from being abused and neglected.  Bottom line: Investing in kids (investing early) saves lives and money
Of course the library cannot address these necessary steps alone, but so many of us see these issues in our buildings – we can be community partners helping our young people achieve successful lives.  (More info. on the fightcrime web site)
 
Most of the teens who walk through our doors are good kids, even when they behave in ways we wish they wouldn’t.  There are ways that we can be pro-active and stop the mischief before it begins:
Teens will notice if they’re shushed for being loud, but adults are allowed to carry on loud, raucous conversations Most important – be visible to teens.  Meet them when they come through the doors after school (Memphis reference here?) and develop relationships with them.
Wow – that’s a lot to highlight in an hour – more help is available from:
Remember – teens are fun!  They’re creative and full of life.  Find the joy in working with them at your libraries.