MLA 2012 was the setting for Monstrositeen, a mini-conference all about teens and libraries. Monstrositeen featured a Teen Spot with easy, cheap craft ideas like duct-tape bracelets and Shrinky Dinks; board games like Zombie Dice, Give Me the Brain and Poo the Card Game; and Dance Central 2, a Kinect dance game that requires neither a pad nor a controller.
Teen Technology at the Public Library
Our own Marika Staloch and Debbie Willms, along with Kathy Korum from the St. Paul Parks Department and Marcus Lowry and Amy Boese from Ramsey County Library, discussed teens and technology at the library.
They stressed the importance of libraries collaborating with partners such as parks, public schools, public television, public access television, the Science Museum, the History Center, and the University of Minnesota. The new Payne-Maryland branch will be jointly run by the library and parks department.
Things learned from their experiences and those of other libraries like Youmedia in Chicago:
- Kids who don't have technology have a disadvantage
- Don't wait for kids to sign up for something --teens don't always know what they want to do
- Strong relationships & trust is key
- Ask teens what they want
- The entire staff has to be welcoming -- staff as mentors-- 2 hours a week at programs isn't enough
- Kids want to create & share
SPPL has a mobile lab with iPads & laptops- teens love just hanging out with them for an hour. This goes along with the HOMAGO (hanging out, messing around, and geeking out) concept conceived by Mizuko Ito.
Ramsey County Library has been working with their CTEPs to help teens create with free software, Flip cameras, and a 3-D printer.
Software they use:
- Scratch -- game creation
- Stencyl -- flash and iOS game creation
- Audacity -- music and podcasts
- Sketchup -- 3-D design (use with 3-D printer)
- Weebly - web creation
Programs they have created:
- Teen tech summer camp
- Video boot camp-- CCTV brings all the equipment -- once they have completed training, teens can come to their studio whenever they want
- National artists doing programs in schools & then teen art shown in library
- Outreach to homeless and incarcerated teens
Issues with technology:
- Cutting edge tech sometimes fails
- IT department doesn't allow downloads-- staff has to get permission for new software
- Free software is great, but sometimes it is no longer being updated/has no technical support
[un]Writing the Stereotype: Choosing Books for Young African-American Readers
People crave communitas -- a sense of comradeship among equals. Teens, being in a limnial stage (not one thing or the other), crave this feeling the most. Yolanda Hare, the presenter, couldn’t find young adult books she could relate to as a teen. African-Americans are not a homogenous population, but African -American young adult novels tend to only show black teens in one way. African-American characters are also more likely to embody some social issue, which does not make for a compelling character readers can relate to. Middle-class
African-Americans often cannot find any books depicting their experiences.
Luckily, there are more young adult authors today who reflect the diversity of the African-American experience, such as Sherri Winston, Dana Davidson, and Jacqueline Woodson.
Teens Know Best
Teens Know Best is a program started by Adela Peskorz at Metro State and continued by our own Marika Staloch. Teens meet monthly to read advanced reader copies of young adult novels. and write reviews. They get to meet authors and help design book covers.
The teens talked about some of their favorite new books. I am checking out Graceling (super-powered mutants in a medieval fantasy setting) and Black City (a post-apocalyptic Romeo & Juliet with vampires) on their advice. They discussed the current trend, post-apocalyptic settings such as in The Hunger Games. The next trend they predict--evil mermaids! (you heard it here first, folks!)
Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain
This talk was presented by Erin Walsh of Mind Positive Parenting, which was founded by Dr. David Walsh.
It is important to remember, when discussing the adolescent brain, that out of the 100 billion neurons we are born with, only 17% are hard-wired. Each growth spurt of the body represents a window of opportunity for learning. Whatever the brain does a lot of, it gets better at. What it doesn’t do --not so much. Think of how hard it is to learn a new language as an adult versus as a child. The experiences people have during growth spurts have greatest impact.
We now know the brain continues to develop through the mid-20s. The prefrontal cortex goes through a great spurt in the teen years - the area responsible for impulse control, risk-taking (negative & positive), and organization. This is why teens have to pay a lot for car insurance.
Testosterone increases by 1000% in all genders, affecting competitiveness and arousal of all kinds. The amygdala--the part of the brain responsible for the fight or flight response--is lighting up like the Fourth of July. The menstrual cycle also causes serotonin to go up & down wildly. Problems feel insurmountable. A good way to describe the adolescent brain: “Gas pedal to the floor, brakes are on backorder”.
Common approaches to dealing with teens:
- Lockdown approach -- treat teens as risks to be managed--keep them controlled
- Fly away approach - tell them to go away until they're 25--don't even try
- “Free pass” approach--they can’t help themselves, so let them make mistakes with no consequences
These approaches are not helpful. Teens have to learn to use their prefrontal cortex, so we adults have to teach them. They will test the limits, and we have to tell them how far they can go.
Tips for dealing with teens:
- Support, but don't coddle or rescue
- Show them consistent limits and consequences
- Show them what respect looks like
- Listen to them
- If they are all amped up, you may have to wait a few moments for their brain to catch up
- Channel risk-taking positively
- Make sure they feel heard
- Don't leave it up to them to figure out how you feel-- their brain chemistry makes them much more likely to read any reaction as an angry one
- Stick to one topic
- You may have to tolerate a bit of mouthiness
Remember: A caring adult is the number one factor in teens’ success. They need connection and guidance.
Handouts are available here.