NPR never fails to provide a wealth of good information and talking points. I came across this great review and discussion in NPR Books. Author Sherry Turkle's new book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other examines the changes and consequences of our increasingly digital and plugged-in worlds. She postulates that even in this digitally connected world, we often find ourselves feeling very much alone.
Some of the important topics she covers with application for Youth Service Librarians include the impact of digital devices on young children in the midst of developing individual identities, the impact of facebook and social networking on teen identity and teen's inability to reinvent themselves today, and the psychology of cyber-bullying in a virtual, rather than face-to-face world. I was particularly interested in the inability for children to separate the school day from the home because of these digital social ties. Whereas children used to be able play with identity, and "shut off" their social selves and social identities once in the privacy of homes, they now continue those social interactions and contests throughout the day and evening.
As someone who so often espouses the virtues of technology and the need for libraries to continue to expand and develop their digital outreach, this interview led me to pause. While I still think we must continue to implement these digital technologies, we have to be sure to redouble our efforts to teach media literacy and responsible digital use. In particular, cyber-bullying is an area that librarians can take a real leadership role in discussing the issues, providing opportunities for discussion and solutions, and display available tools and resources to counteract such behavior.
Interestingly, this month's K-12 Professional Book Club at the University of Illinois will address this same issue. Dorothy L. Espelage, a UIUC faculty member and one of the co-authors of Bullying Prevention & Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Schools, will be in attendance on Tuesday, November 6th to discuss her book (co-authors Susan M. Swearer, Dorothy L. Espelage, and Scott A. Napolitano). This session will also be offered online, if anyone is interested. I look forward to finding the time to read both of these books--I think they will potentially work well in concert--and I hope to be able to virtually attend this session.
As we continue to develop digital and mobile libraries, we constantly have to make sure we are considering the consequences of such technologies upon our young people so that we can both best utilize these tools, and ensure they complement a supportive and nurturing youth environment.