The long awaited, quite controversial, Thing #12 is upon me. I will be the first to admit that I was very anti-MySpace before this project. Any time there is a news story or radio broadcast covering MySpace, I am tuned in to hear what they have to say or prove about the dangers of social networking.
The first problem is that I had no experience with MySpace, so when I hear the negative stories, I am not "really" aware of what they are talking about. Shame on me for prejudging and basing my views on someone else's thoughts, and not doing some investigating on my own.
The second problem is that I can now see that all of the negative stories I have tuned in for were the results of lack of supervision or knowledge. Many of these issues were because parents, no diferent than me, had no knowledge of social networking, were not monitoring what their children were doing online, or their children were too young to be on a scoial networking site.
Well, I now have been bitten by the social networking bug. I have created a MySpace account, joined The Texas School Librarians group, the Mesquite Librarians & Friends, and even Facebook. Sure, proabably a little overboard, but I wanted to see what they all had to offer before I judged them, yet again.
I will admit that I have truly enjoyed the MySpace page that I created. After only two days, I was in contact with my college roommate from West Texas, found several college friends, numerous friends from high school, Mesquite teachers and librarians, and yes, even a few students and weirdos. The great thing about it is all I have to do is block that person or set my security up higher. Nothing obscene has come my way. If I do not know who you are, you are not allowed on my page.
Now don't get me wrong, this is no place for my 9 year old right now. However, she sat right beside me as I set things up, chatted with friends, and even blocked a person. We had continual conversations about the good and bad aspects of MySpace. At only 9, she already has a lot of knowledge about social networks, and what is good and bad about them.
As Library Media Specialists, we owe it to our clients to know as much as we can about social networks. They are here to stay. Ignoring them will only cause more harm. I would much rather have the knowledge, and be able to guide my students, rather than bashing something I know they are involved in.
My students are too young to have a MySpace account, but guess what, nearly a dozen found me over the holiday break. I am sure many of them are not being monitored. At least now much better equipped to guide them, and in a sense, keep up with what they have going on in their social network.
As far as usefulness in the library setting, I really do not have answer. I guess classes could have pages where they posted information about current events in their classrooms, a science-based page, or even a community page where parents can be involved. The security woud have to be the strongest, and we would have to learn a lot more about the necessary security. I am looking forward to researching this some more.
Basically, I walk away from this Thing much more informed for my students. I feel more equipped to answer questions about social networking, and will seek out more knowledge, and weigh it out for myself. I am also in contact with many lost friends, and maybe I might just seem a little more "real" to my students.