Youth today have grown up with digital technology. A term commonly used to describe those born after ~1990 is "Digital Native". Digital Natives are more comfortable with digital technology than older generations that did not grow up surrounded by it - often referred to as "Digital Immigrants". Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants are not enemies - they can learn from and support each other. But it is important to remember that youth are essential contributors to society and not just small people on a path to becoming adults.

Traits of Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives retrieved from
Digital Immigrant - retrieved from
Digital Native - retrieved from


Technology changes rapidly so it is important to keep track of trends. If you work with youth, it's important to stay in touch with the most popular social media platforms. And if you want to keep in touch, then using these apps to promote, market, and inform is essential.

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Also, since HOMAGO has been identified as a primary way that youth interact with Digital Technology, it is clear that libraries should build on that knowledge. Creating spaces where youth are comfortable Hanging Out with their devices and friends; providing opportunities for Messing Around with technology in Maker Space environments; and offering program opportunities geared towards the Geeking Out interests that fit your demographic seems like an excellent way in which libraries can meet the growing digital needs of youth today and in the future. But staying informed is key.

Japanimation Club, LEGO League, and Voyagers at Smith Public Library. (The Voyagers are looking at the sun with special glasses provided by a local astronomy club.)


Today's youth have a broad range of information needs. While educators most often think of academic information needs, youth today also seek information on entertainment, politics, hobbies, and both social and personal issues. Just like any other age group, they prefer information they can relate to and understand. Verifying the validity or quality of their choice is not always as important to them as finding the information quickly. This can lead them to inaccurate or "fake" news and information. Studying the information needs of youth and where they look for information should help educators guide them to more reliable sources and provide them with guidelines for validating the information they find.

Valid News Sources -


As the Digital Native Debate infographic seen earlier illustrates, digital technology has created a generation that is at ease using social networks to communicate with peers across cultures and continents. This creation of a world without borders has already proven to be a powerful element in instigating change on a universal level.


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Digital Literacy is a progressive development of the skills needed to function in and benefit from today’s digital information society. This encompasses learning the fundamentals of computing and building upon that knowledge to create connections (both personal and informational) using computers and other digital devices. True digital literacy incorporates critical thinking, discernment, and ethical behavior.


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Smith Public Library's Teen Library Council putting finishing touches on their pedal car.

At first I found it difficult to think in terms of "classroom" since I work in a public library setting. But as the semester has progressed, I have been able to invert my thinking at look at things differently. One example is the Teen Library Council (TLC) Pedal Car project. This was about 1/3 Project and 2/3 Project Based Learning. The Friends of the Library initially purchased the car to enter into the annual Wylie Pedal Car race. (for more info on the race, visit Then they asked our TLC'ers to decorate it. At that point, the project became theirs to control. I think they did an outstanding job!

The finished product and a happy group of teens.


Literacy today means more than just traditional reading and writing; it must also encompass digital technology. UNESCO's Five Laws of Media and Information Literacy provide a solid basis upon which to build the skills needed in today's world. UNESCO based their five laws upon S. R. Ranganathan's Five Laws Of Library Science, which were originally developed in 1931 and are listed below.

Books are for use.

Every reader his / her book.

Every book its reader.

Save the time of the reader.

The library is a growing organism.

You can see how the new laws created by UNESCO, which are shown in the graphic below, complement and expand upon the original five laws.


Image retrieved from

The "flipped" classroom inverts traditional teaching methods. Students watch lessons outside of class and use class time for more in-depth engagement with material. Rather than standing in front of the classroom and lecturing, teachers can facilitate and guide. This provides more opportunity for students who learn differently to excel and show their true potential.

Cloud computing supports an environment where any device can be used to access files, learn digital skills, or complete assignments. Students or patrons can use a tablet, a laptop, a PC, a Chromebook, or other mobile devices. As long as there is a good internet connection, cloud based services can be accessed. Cloud printing, for example, is already available at some libraries and will no doubt become available at most libraries in the future. Patrons are already requesting it at my library.

and the future &

The future of Digital Technology is only bound by how far our imaginations can stretch. If I had been told thirty years ago that I would be able to take pictures with a phone I could carry in my pocket and then share those photos with everyone I know instantly - I am not sure I would have believed it. But that is where we are today. Of course, there are still challenges. The largest is the ever present socioeconomic divide. Effort must be exerted to find creative ways to solve the problem of connectivity so that there are equal learning opportunities for children around the world and that learning does not stop when students leave their formal educational environment.


Itō, M. (2010). Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out: Kids living and learning with new media. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Lenhart, A. (2015, April 08). Teens, social media & technology overview 2015. Retrieved April 30, 2017, from

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