Thursday, May 3, 2007

Social Networking: MySpace and Beyond and the Law

Presenter: Linda Braun

Social Networking is: talking to other people, sharing information in real time, same interests, you have to register...IM, MySpace, Amazon, Facebook, even things like Blackboard and other discussion/chat tools. But it also causes lots of people (teachers, librarians, politicians, parents) to worry about the kind of trouble that people (kids) can get into online.

If you say "Web 2.0" (interactive/collaborative online tools) instead of "Social Networking", you get a totally different response from people, but it is really sort of the same thing. Sometimes we are unsafe online, but we make choices - and we need to teach patrons/users to make good choices regardless of their age.

4 Books Linda recommends on the subject, all linked on this page, along with other links relevant to this topic

Her recommendation for a one community, one book book is: My Space Unraveled by Larry Magid and Anne Collier. She thinks it would be a great book for discussion, especially intergenerationally.

MySpace is one way for kids to figure out who they are (positive identity), which is one of the 40 developmental assets identified by the Search Institute. If you don't already know about these and you have adolescents in your life in any way, shape or form, check the link - it's invaluable information.

We need to recognize that teenagers already know how to be safe online with social networking - we don't need to teach them, we need to remind them. Have teenagers teach other people how to use MySpace and why they use MySpace. As you help them prepare, you get your message across. This will help them feel empowered, another of the 40 developmental assets.

You can have great conversations with kids about how you choose your friends - online and in person! There can be great carry-over for real-life interactions.

The Hennepin County Library has a MySpace account and the teens on MySpace can actually search the OPAC right from that MySpace page - and they get a lot of hits on it daily! This is where the kids are, so they went to the kids.

People use MySpace to keep up with what their friends are doing. And it's always changeable. They can see what music they listen to, what new music they've gotten, you can post a bulletin to all your friends as soon as they log in to their MySpace account. Libraries can use them to advertise programs.

Remember that there are teens and kids that don't frequent the library, but that may actually be on MySpace and that is how you can connect with them. Facebook is a very similar tool, some people use both and some use just one. Although some use them for different things, and have different kinds of friends on each one.

Kids sometimes are shocked that parents and potential employers are finding kids's myspace/facebook accounts. It isn't real for them until their mother finds them online because she knows their email address. This shouldn't be surprising, but as a teen, they have that mentality that they are invincible.

There is a social networking site just for kids called Club Penguin.

To find out what's going on in the legal realm, through, click on the DOPA link in the righthand column and there are links there. One of note is OpenCongress. The difficult thing is that the filter will be on until you turn it off, but most school librarians and teachers don't have the capability or network permissions to turn off filters on a school network. In the late fall/early winter, state governments are now proposing legislation regarding social networking and restricting use of it. DOPAWatch is an RSS feed to keep aware of what's going on.

We ran out of time for copyright issues, but one thing that happened two days ago, a huge story blew up.

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