Portland high schools take byte out of laptop use at home

There’s a lot of talk going on about the recent announcement that Portland, Maine area schools will be filtering the school issued netbooks at home in addition to while the students are in school.

Everyday here in the teen library we see anywhere from 70-100 teens everyday (last Tuesday, we saw 153 teens!) .  These teens come to our library as a meeting place and use our resources.  Many of them rely on their netbooks as their primary source of connection.  This connection includes internet access, word processing, social networking and Skype to communicate with their friends and family, and YouTube to connect them to their passions (many of them use YouTube to listen to music and watch soccer games).  These teens (many of which are immigrants from Sudan, Somalia, and Rwanda) use this connection for good.  It helps them connect with their family and friends through social networks.  It gives them access to the music and soccer they love so much, the hobbies they enjoy that keep them going.

The original article can be found here
The Portland Press Herald Opinion piece can be found here
Cory Doctorow’s response on Boing Boing can be found here

Here’s some great information that I’ve found to be very helpful in understanding teens, social media, and just how this all fits together in their lives and how librarians can help them

Teens and Social Media from the Pew Research Group
Elements of Educational Technology by  Heather Braum
Straight from the DOE: Dispelling Myths About Blocked Sites by Tina Barseghian

The use of social media – from blogging to online social networking to creation of all kinds of digital material – is central to many teenagers’ lives.

Some 93% of teens use the internet, and more of them than ever are treating it as a venue for social interaction – a place where they can share creations, tell stories, and interact with others.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has found that 64% of online teens ages 12-17 have participated in one or more among a wide range of content-creating activities on the internet, up from 57% of online teens in a similar survey at the end of 2004.

Preparing teens for their future in a digital, connected world is imperative this day and age.  Technology will continue to become a larger part of our lives every day, and it is in our best interest to offer these teens access to the tools they need now to give them the best chance they have to succeed tomorrow.

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