I plan to be children’s librarian at a public library or private school. I’ve interned at a public library and can clearly see the huge benefits of using social media in that setting. In the fall, I’ll be doing an internship at a private K-8 school and it’s got me thinking about where (and if) social media fits into that puzzle. Is there a place for it with the younger set?
The most obvious hurdle here is age. Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, WordPress, Goodreads, and many others require a minimum age of 13 to open an account. That’s good news for middle and high schoolers, where the possibilities are endless, but are elementary schoolers out of luck?
There’s also the issue of parents. Some may not want their younger children on social sites, even ones geared toward younger kids like ScuttlePad and Togetherville. According to “Kids Online,” a report issued by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, sites aimed at the under-13 set vary widely in quality: “evidence is growing that many of the virtual worlds for children that are currently available are impoverished compared to those for teens and adults…the comparable worlds designed for children often provide much more limited, homogenous texts, contain fewer affordances and action opportunities, and even promote bad grammar because of word filters.”
Obviously, librarians are free to use social media to network and cull ideas to enrich their student’s lives at any age level. In fact, according to a recent report by MMS Education, librarians use social networking professionally more than teachers and principals–citing 82% usage in 2012. But, what are some other options for connecting with younger students within the Web 2.0 realm?
The best idea I can come up with, given the limitations, is starting a book blog or wiki at a school. Teachers, librarians and students could recommend books, write reviews, organize book clubs, have kids vote for favorites, etc. Sort of a Goodreads for the youngins.
Do any of you have experience or ideas on this front?