Biting the Bullet: Learning Facebook to offer relevant library services to children and young adults

Facebook is social networking service launched onto the internet in 2004 (Koplowitz, 2012, May 18) and has been growing in popularity ever since to the point of having over 1.19 billion monthly active users as of September 30, 2013 (Facebook, 2014b). Of these monthly active users over 12 million are Australian, making it Australia’s most popular social media site (Cowling, 2013, December 1) with approximately 9 million Australians logging into their Facebook pages daily, which at the time of reporting was roughly 39% of the Australian population (Cowling, 2013, August 19). Whilst the Facebook requires members to have a minimum age limit of 13 (Facebook, 2014a) global internet security company McAfee (2013) found in a survey of 1000 Australian youth aged between 8 and 17, that 26% of the children aged between 8 and 12 had Facebook accounts despite the minimum age limit. As for teenagers, Sensis (2013) conducted a social media survey of Australians aged 14 to over 65, and found that those in the age group of 14 to 19 years old of those who had internet access 92% of those surveyed used social media, and of those using social media 94% used Facebook.

Whilst Facebook as internet software may not necessarily be considered an ‘emerging technology,’ with the increasing integration of Facebook into everyday life, the emerging uses of the technology can be found in almost every aspect of our lives. Not only does Facebook serve its original function of facilitating social interactions, it can also be used for political activism (Marichal, 2013), education (TeachThought, 2012), recreation and entertainment (Vogelstein, 2012, February 4) and a range of other activities. With librarians now looking into ways to incorporate Facebook into the library experience (Phillips, 2011) such as posting information about new books and advertising library services (Agosto & Abbas, (2011) learning how to use Facebook has become one of the essential 101 things a librarian should know (Porter & King, n.d.). With the enormous popularity of Facebook within the Australian population, along with the infiltration of Facebook into everyday activities, it only makes sense that a children’s librarian wishing to have a relevant professional relationship with children must be able to use the same technology as the children.

To be honest I’m not ‘on’ Facebook and I’ve never understood the appeal of social media sites, an opinion my family and friends deem to be weird. However, in order to be able to offer more relevant library services to children and young adults, I bit the bullet and signed up for Facebook. After significant trial and error learning, and severe abuse of the ‘help’ feature, I have reached the point where I can confidently explain most Facebook features to others and keep an account updated with relevant data. I still have much to learn about some of the finer points of Facebook and as Facebook updates ongoing education will  be required, but continued use of my Facebook account will ensure that my skills and knowledge of this software continue to grow.

References

Agosto, D., & Abbas, J. (2011). Introduction: Teens, libraries and online social networks: A new era for library services to young adults. In D. Agosto & J. Abbas (Eds.), Teens, Libraries, and Social Networking : What Librarians Need to Know. (pp. XV-XXIII). Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Cowling, D. (2013, August 19). 9 million Australians use Facebook every day. SocialMediaNews.com.au. Retrieved from http://www.socialmedianews.com.au/9-million-australians-use-facebook-every-day/

Cowling, D. (2013, December 1). Social media statistics Australia – November 2013. SocialMediaNews.com.au. Retrieved from http://www.socialmedianews.com.au/social-media-statistics-australia-november-2013/

Facebook. (2014a). How old do you have to be to sign up for Facebook?. Retrieved January 12, 2014, from  https://www.facebook.com/help/210644045634222

Facebook. (2014b). Key Facts. Retrieved January 12, 2014, from  http://newsroom.fb.com/Key-Facts

Koplowitz, H. (2012, May 18). A timeline of Facebook history: From fledgling startup to $114 billion giant. International Business Times. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.com/timeline-facebook-history-fledgling-startup-114-billion-giant-699093

McAfee. (2013). Tweens, teens and technology research report 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from http://mcafeecybered.com/cybered/files/Tweens%20Research%20Fact%20SheetFINAL.pdf

Marichal, J. (2013). Political Facebook groups: Micro-activism and the digital front stage. First Monday, 18(12). Retrieved from http://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4653/3800

Phillips, N. (2011). Academic library use of Facebook: Building relationships with students. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37(60), 512-522.

Porter, M. & King, D. (n.d). Library 101: 101 resources and things to know. Retrieved January 14, 2014, from http://www.libraryman.com/blog/101rtk/

Sensis. (2013). Yellow Social Media Report. Retrieved from http://about.sensis.com.au/IgnitionSuite/uploads/docs/Yellow%20Pages%20Social%20Media%20Report_F.PDF

TeachThought. (2012). 100 ways to use Facebook in education by category. Retrieved January 14, 2014, from http://www.teachthought.com/technology/100-ways-to-use-facebook-in-education-by-category/

Vogelstein, F. (2012, February 4). How Facebook could remake the entertainment industry. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-facebook-could-remake-the-entertainment-industry/2012/02/02/gIQA2z7YnQ_story.html

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One thought on “Biting the Bullet: Learning Facebook to offer relevant library services to children and young adults

  1. Louise, your post is thought provoking and relatable. It feels like everyone assumes that everyone else is on Facebook, but I can relate to your avoidance so far of it. I’m not sure of your reasons why, but I personally feel uncomfortable with the amount of private information available on Facebook. I do have a Facebook account, but use this to stay in touch with friends and family only, and still feel uneasy about it.

    The issue of personal and professional life mingling is discussed in: “Fortify your Facebook privacy settings: don’t let the window into your personal life sully your professional reputation”. This article has detailed proactive steps you can take to restrict access, keeping in touch with friends and building a professional network as well. Some ideas are to restrict access to your content and photos, and adjust settings to remove your profile from Facebook and Google search (Carlton Collins, 2010).

    But this may not be enough – many users are very relaxed about who they add as friends: a study of 450 college students found that 72% accepted a friend request from an unknown fictional person (created for the purpose of the study). In doing so, they gave access to information restricted to friends, and to potentially embarrassing and private information that could be manipulated (Lemieux, 2012).

    Carlton Collins, J. (2010). Fortify your Facebook privacy settings: don’t let the window into your personal life sully your professional reputation. Journal of accountancy , 209 (6), 42-46.
    Lemieux, R. (2012). Fictional privacy among Facebook users. Psychological reports: relationships & communication , 111 (1), 289-292.

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