It’s Teen Tech Week!
By Megan on March 13th, 2013
What is Teen Tech Week, you ask? If the teenagers you know are anything like the ones I do, every week is tech week for this gadget and online-savvy generation. Before reading about it online, I didn’t even know Teen Tech Week existed, but, yes, there is one week out of the year deemed “Teen Tech Week,” and this year, it runs from March 10-16. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) calls it ”a national initiative aimed at teens, their parents, educators and other concerned adults to ensure that teens are competent and ethical users of technologies, especially those that are offered through libraries. Teen Tech Week encourages teens to use libraries’ nonprint resources for education and recreation, and to recognize that librarians are qualified, trusted professionals in the field of information technology.” I think this is an important and powerful initiative.
I have been doing a lot of reading lately on children and teens and their use of technology, particualry when it comes to reading. While many young people are still reading print books, the percent of children who have read an ebook has almost doubled since 2010. 46% of kids surveyed in the 2012 Kids and Family Reading Report say they have read an ebook, up from 25% in 2010. In fact, since 2012, children’s ereading has increased significantly across all devices including laptop computers or netbooks, iPads or other tablets, devices for ereading like the Kindle, Nook, or Sony Reader, and handheld devices like iPods, cell phones, and Nintendo DS systems.
Compared to 2010, more girls age 12-17 are connecting through technology five to seven days a week. Similarly, more boys ages 15-17 are going online via a computer, visiting social networking sites, and playing video games five to seven days a week. These children are “digital natives” in the true sense of the term, using a wide range of platforms and devices at record speed and ease to connect with friends, create, and share.
A term that has been picking up momentum in the past few years is “new literacies,” and it refers to the ways kids and teens are reading online in the 21st century. Some academics and literacy experts feel that while online reading still requires the fundamental skills of decoding and comprehending texts, kids also need instruction to develop new skills in order to search for, synthesize, and analyze texts online. They believe that online reading comprehension should be a focus in schools so kids can navigate the Internet, prioritize Google searches, scrutinize the massive amounts of content these searches yield, and discern what is of value and what is spam. In her new book, Giving Our Children a Fighting Chance, educator and researcher Susan Neuman states that the Internet represents “a confluence of language and technology, which requires children to navigate the complexities of this new environment—symbols, images, words, video—and to develop a more critical eye when faced with a deluge of information. In other words, they will need to learn “when to stop clicking and when to start thinking” (92). In addition to literacy skills, Neuman identifies the “four C’s” that young people will need to equip themselves with in order to compete in today’s professional world: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity (105).
I think the objective of Teen Tech Week is to celebrate these “four C’s,” and to encourage teens to see technology as a vehicle for honing these skills. YALSA has scheduled a bunch of events for teens this week, like tweet ups and webinars on topics like new media and using libraries effectively, but their main call to action is to encourage teens to check in at their local library. The hope is for them to discover all the wonderful (and cool) opportunities that await them. So, check your local library to see what they’ve got planned!
Are you celebrating Teen Tech Week at your school or library, or at home? Tell us how!
image via YALSA.
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