I love Facebook! I have had an account for about 3 years or so. It's a great way to keep in touch with people, and also to solicit feedback about a particular topic. Right now, I'm asking advice from my crafty friends about carving out a corner for crafts in my basement. I also found that there is a group in Flickr for "craft rooms" with lots of great picture ideas. Neat! ok, back to Social Networking ;). Facebook is such a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. While I may not think of writing an email to someone (or have much to say) I can certainly comment on links and photos they post, or a status that speaks to me. I find also that I like putting positive quotes in my status bar. People love that. It is a way to make a positive contribution to people's day. :)
Twitter. Hmmm. I have a Twitter account but I haven't used it that much. In fact, I've started and stopped using my account like three times now. I know that some people use it a lot, but I just can't get into it. I do like it for the real time posting of information. And it is also a great way to get feedback, but really not very many friends of mine are using it, so I would mostly hear from strangers. And while I have followers, they don't necessarily comment that much.
Regarding the VAPLD Facebook and Twitter accounts...I add content to both and I'm still getting used to what kind of content to add to it. I'm now part of the Social Media team, and getting direction in that respect has been invaluable. I just have to keep posting and I guess I'll get better at it. I wish we could solicit more feedback from people. I've found that the best way is to ask direct questions, or at least post on topics that people are interested in (they seemed to like our new Harry Potter guide, for instance). We have 202 followers to our Twitter account. Our recent postings include the James Swanson program. While it is nice that that content is included, I can't help but think that some people just don't care to read all of that. The nice thing though about Twitter is that you don't have to read it all.
Facebook and Twitter are a great way to get the word out about library programs and collections. They are even better at soliciting feedback though, and I think that is where we can step things up a little bit. Perhaps we can have a "question of the week" that is posted not only to our Facebook or Twitter account, but also to the webpage. When we cross-post our information, I would think it would get more hits. People can't comment on our VAPLD page (while I wish they could) so why not solicit input there (with simple questions) and encourage people to sound off on Facebook. Hmmmm, the possibilities.
Regarding Internet safety, I read one of the articles on the ILA page about creating content, and I found this quote encouraging, "Students and parents report fewer recent or current problems,
such as cyberstalking, cyberbullying and unwelcome personal encounters, than school fears and
policies seem to imply. Only a minority of students has had any kind of negative experience with
social networking in the last three months; even fewer parents report that their children have had a negative experience over a longer, six-month period." The unfortunate thing, is that those students who have had bad experiences on the Internet tend to have really bad ones. The stories that you hear about cyberbullying, etc. have been horrific. I was never bullied in school, but for those that are, social networking seems to be the newest way to do it. I guess that while an adult might have negative experiences on the Internet, a student might be less likely to do something about it and therefore the bad experience continues. And I don't really get how students can hijack another students' Facebook page and post bad things, but I've heard that it happens. The thing is, when kids say bad things or post bad pictures about other kids on the Internet, there isn't that much that the bullied child can really do about it. Perhaps that is the difference between bullying and cyberbullying...the intensity and the lack of ability to stop it. Kids need to have a strong sense of self to be able to say "this isn't right" and then have the ability to do something about it. Hopefully as the article seemed to illustrate, the percentage of kids that have experienced this cyberbullying seems to be relatively low. I just there was a better way to help those kids who have been bullied in this way. The best way, is for the parents to talk to their kids directly about cyberbullying and to encourage them to go to their parents for help if they experience it. And as far as people hijacking facebook accounts to post inappropriate stuff, I *think* that if kids didn't give out their passwords to friends (I've heard this happens) maybe this would stem the problem. Kids can certainly benefit from using the Internet and social networking sites (they seem to create a lot of content for it) we just need to teach them what is appropriate sharing of their information and what to do if things go awry.