It is not surprising that teens can learn the latest technology quicker than adults. Let's face it, they've grown up with techie gadgets, while the rest of us were watching the gadgets become reality. In a book that I recently read, there was a story about preschool children going to a Retirement community to visit and read to the residents. As each child was paired with their reading partner, amazing things began to happen. Children read better, the residents became more active, which boosted their overall health and lasting relationships were formed. A girl in the preschool class began to ask her partner, an older gentleman, about how life was like when he was growing up. This lead to stories of life on a farm in the 1930’s when it seemed everything was much simpler and quite different. The girl then asked, “How big was your iPod?” You can imagine the look on the older gentleman’s face. Which proves the point, our world has changed so much in the past decades, that teens can be much more in tuned to change and technology than adults. Is this to say that adults can’t adapt to new technology? Not at all. However, what better excuse can librarians have to connect with the next generation than to watch teens using technology and learning from them?
For Teen Tech Week at my library we decided to host a Game Night where teens, sixth grade through twelfth can play Wii games and socialize. Instead of having prizes for the best Guitar Hero player, the prizes can be won in other ways. This will require the teens to use their iPods or cell phones to text messages. A prize will be given to the first teen who can prove that they have a Beatles song on their iPod. Name that app! will be another game where teens can team up to identify as many Apple application symbols in two minutes. There will also be questions for teens to answer to win prizes. The catch, they will have to IM the librarian with the answer. The IM with the correct answer and reaches the librarian first, wins a prize. Besides giving the teens a chance to have fun at the library, the games are aimed to bridge that technology and generation gap, allowing teens to show off their knowledge.
As I get older, working with teens has alerted me to the fact that it is a huge responsibility of my generation to learn to use the tools of today. Especially in my line of work. If teens are to be attracted to the library, knowing how to use technology is vital. On Facebook, many of the teens from the library are my “friends.” It is a wonderful way to keep in touch with them in between our monthly meetings. The most important lesson I learned from having these bright, witty and bold teens “friend” me on this site, is that I need to be flexible, go with the ebb and flow of technology, and be ready to learn something new. When Facebook changed it’s format, I complained for three days straight on my wall. My displeasure was noted by one of my teens, who replied to my post, “Mrs. Nowc, you are old and old people don’t like change.” Granted, it was not the nicest thing to be told, but grudgingly I had to admit he was right. Teen Tech Week is just perfect to bring me up to speed with the teens and humbly acknowledge they can teach me quite a bit. Then again, maybe I can impress them that I know how to download music onto my iPod. I can hear them now, “Cool, but that’s old news! Can you download a video from YouTube?”