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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Net Cetera

YALSA sent out a letter last spring mentioning they were partnering with the Federal Trade Commission to offer new and exciting resources for your library. Sure… I thought. The FTC is going to be very exciting. Still I ordered one to try out.

When Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online ( arrived, I realized right away that this would be very helpful to initate conversations between teachers and students and between students and parents. I was able to order 1000 copies (enough for every student) of the guide and their bookmarks from I ordered copies in Spanish, also.  Unfortunately no Arabic was available at that time. Rats!

During the first week of school as I did a micro-introduction to the library, I was able to teach from the guide, integrate real life connections with how students use technology; establish that I was their teacher of information, communication, technology and literacy skills with the real world; discuss how to be safe using mobile technologies and web 2.0 products; and emphasize the importance of their obtaining their parents’ permission on the Internet Use Agreement. Pretty good lesson in under 30 minutes with time for checkout, too.

While I presented this information I asked students the following questions:

How many of you

  • have a cell phone
  • have ever watched YouTube videos
  • have ever been to MySpace
  • have ever been to Facebook
  • have ever tweeted using Twitter
  • have ever used nings, blogs, wikispaces, animoto, picasso, prezi, and other cool tools?

Up until the last two questions, the majority of the students raised their hands. Each class would have 4-6 students who had tweeted and very few had used the last set of tools. This gave me the opportunity to say sympathetically, “I’m so sorry you haven’t used everything out there yet. It’s a good thing you have a librarian to guide you through them.”

We discussed Cyberbullying with most classes and hit the highlights of a few other safety areas. We discussed privacy and the lack of it on school computers and on the internet. Finally I offered to teach their parents if they had any questions. I told them their parents could reach me by phone, email, text message, facebook, myspace, linkedin, or in person. I even offered to show their parents how to locate their own child’s myspace pages so they could judge whether the students were posting TMI. Many shuddered at the thought and said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

The guide Net Cetera was written for parents. Still, students scanned through the topics and huddled in groups discussing terms like sexting and why it was so bad.  I appreciated having a first class of the year where every student took something home, talked to their parents, learned a new way to address parents’ fears of social networking, and were actively engaged in learning.

Be sure to go order your sets of materials to share with parents. When kids hit middle school, any tool that helps them communicate with their parents is an effective tool.