Facebook has over 400 million users and half of them log on at least once a day. Web 2.0 technologies (such as Facebook and other social networking sites, blogs, wikis, 3D worlds and content sharing sites) are heavily used by children, teens and young adults. While allowing use of these technologies, what can libraries do to protect themselves and those who use their computers?
Suggestions for libraries
Instead of filtering Web 2.0 Web sites, libraries should educate parents and guardians to be aware of what technologies their children are using and how they are using them. Libraries should also consider drafting policies that will protect them and their users (see the “Internet Use Policies” section for more information):
- Create a “time, place, and manner” policy on Web 2.0 technology use in the library, as well as restrictions on use;
- Develop “rules of behavior” when making decisions regarding which services to offer, dealing with complaints, and information literacy; and
- If the library allows patrons to interact with the library (e.g., submitting book reviews, etc.), consider answering questions about how to post or make submissions, what kinds of submissions are appropriate, and if and/or how these items will be moderated. Include topics of slander and libel.
Educate! Educate! Educate!
Though many younger users are technology-savvy, they often are unaware of issues surrounding online privacy. Parents and guardians need to be aware of what technologies their children are using and how they are using them. The library is a great place to learn this. As educators, librarians need to encourage and teach parents to be more attentive to what their children are doing online in order to teach them how to be safe in online environments.
To facilitate this, libraries should offer:
- Workshops or information sessions on Web 2.0 technologies, their capabilities, and how they are being used by children, teens, and young adults;
- Pamphlets on the kinds of information that should not be posted online; and
- Presentations that inform parents and give them concrete examples of how these technologies are used.
The key to educating parents is to emphasize communication between the parent and child regarding the child’s activities online (see the “Safety and Responsibility” section for more information). Have parents ask:
- What Web sites do their children visit regularly?
- What are they doing on these Web sites?
- Who are they meeting on these Web sites; who are their “friends”?
- What kinds of information are they posting? Is anything too personal, such as address, telephone number, etc.?
Resources for Librarians about Online Social Networking (from: YALSA)
Children and the Internet: Policies that Work (from: ALSC)
Privacy and Confidentiality Document (from: IFC)
Privacy Toolkit (from: IFC)