Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Teen Tech 12

Teen Tech Week is coming (March 4 – 10)! Every year it seems to sneak up on me planning wise; We’ve just announced the big medal winners and are thinking about Valentine’s Day and them – bam – it’s Teen Tech Week. TTW is a great time to consider the role that technology plays in our programming. Teens like tech, but a lot of smaller libraries don’t have the staff or the budgets to keep up with the latest technology and really incorporate them into our programming. In fact, it often seems that teens are way ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. Even my preteen got a Kindle ereader for Christmas (which she loves) but our library still doesn’t offer any e-book services, which is true of a lot of libraries (although more and more are).

So what will you be doing this week – and this year – to incorporate the teen love of tech into your programming? Here are 12 ideas for you to consider doing in 2012.  Have one of your own? Please share it in the comments. Read more for the TLT Teen Tech 12 . . .

 1. Facebook Timeline
On February 10th everyone, like it or not, will have their FB pages goes over to the new Timeline format. There is a lot of information out there about how to “pimp” your Timeline and make it more uniquely your own. Spend some time getting familiar with the new Timelines so you can help your teens understand and use it. This is also a good time to talk with your teens about online privacy and safety issues. Have a small tech lab and invite teens to come play with the new Timeline and help them create unique covers for their pages.

PCMag.com: 12 Things you should know about Facebook Timeline
PCWorld: Facebook Timelines privacy tips: lock down your profile
Geek System: How to make your Timeline cover look extra awesome

2. Twitter Talk
Believe it or not, you can have some fun and interesting discussions on Twitter in only 140 characters a statement.  Set a date, time, and topic and invite your teens to meet you online for some Twitter chat. It’s even more fun if there is some type of big event – like a tv show premiere or awards show – that you can meet with your teens online and talk about.  You can also hold a virtual book discussion group using Twitter. You’ll want to create a hashtag that everyone includes in their tweets so that the topic is easy to follow. How to TweetChat info. Please note: this of course works with your Facebook page as well.

3.  Prezi
Teach your teens to take their presentations up a notch. PowerPoint is so last year.  Prezi is “the zooming presentation”. It’s fun and dynamic. Teens can create book talks, make library commercials and more for you as you teach them how to use this more dynamic presentation program.

4. QR Code Scavenger Hunt
You can download a QR code creator and have teens do a scavenger hunt through your library, their schools, or the entire town.  Out of all the programming, this will be the most limiting becuase it is important for us to remember that not all teens have smart phones (or any type of cell phone). iLearn Technology has put together a great “How to” for those of you interested in this type of programming.

5.  Figment
Figment is an online community that invites teens to share and critique their writings and the writings of other teens. They also have a daily writing prompt that would be great to get some writing and talking going. They have a wide variety of contests going on at all times that you can promote and invite your teens to tap into. You could have some more traditional writing workshops and then provide the opportunity for teens to submit their pieces on Figment.

6.  Meme

Ashlee Kunkel shared on the TLT Facebook wall that she was going to be doing a library meme contest and was going to use her FB page to promote it. To make a long story short, a meme is an idea or statement that spreads and is imitated. You see them everyday: Honey badger, Ryan Goslins and his Hey Girl. A meme is a picture or statement that goes viral. Rickrolling is my favorite meme and I have a friend who will snap a pic when Rick Astley comes on the radio and text it to me. It’s our thing.  There are some online meme generators that teens can use to create their own. I love this idea, if they get a good meme that takes off, it can really be a win for the library in their community.

Created using Typoinsta

7. Digital Photography
Technology does not have to mean computers, social media or even the Internet. You can have some photography workshops (ask a local photographer to come help) and help teens learn some basics about digital photography. Or you can help teens learn to create and alter their images to be more creative. You can use free online photo editing software, like Picknik.com (which is sadly going away) or Gimp (download it for free), to create more unique images, play with colorizing, or add texts. In fact, teens can use their own photographs to create unique memes. And you know I have mentioned things like iPhone apps (WordFoto, Instagram, etc.) that can help you make fun images. Or setting up a photobooth. Or decorating your teen area. You can even have an online photo contest where teens submit pics online and everyone votes on a winner. And I am not even going to use this talking point to shamelessly plug The 2012 Project. Nope, I’m really not. But you can see how it would fit right here, right? Okay – carry on. (I am Hipstamtic and Instagram obsessed right now, just saying.)

Rookie: How to use Picnik without looking like a tool
Business Insider: 10 Things you never knew you could do with your Instagram photos after you take them

8. Virtual Battle of the Bands
When I moved to Texas the Arlington Public Library system was having a virtual battle of the bands, which is a great way to do some preliminary rounds until you get to, say, a final four, and you can have a rocking after hours or outdoors concert. Teens simply submit songs mp3s or videos that you can share online and give your teen patrons the opportunity to vote on. All you need to do is set up your BOTB parameters, deadlines, and promote, promote, promote. This structure would also work for things like teen created book trailers, art work, memes, and more.

9. Comic Creators
There are a variety of online sites that help teens create their own comics and comic strips. This is a great way to get your gn fans involved and promote your gn collection whil incorporating technology into your programming.  There are online tools such as Pixton, Strip Creator, or ToonDoo. There are more out there so look around and find the one that works best for you.

10. Blog, Blog, Bloggity Blog
Help teens set up a blog! Most blogging platforms are free and easy to use. And blogging has benefits: teens get a forum to express themselves, be creative, practice writing skills and learn about protecting their online image. Encourage teens to blog about whatever they want and means something to them. Your TAB could blog about their library experiences, book discussion group members could blog about the books you are reading, etc. The opportunities are limitless.

11. Video Game Design
 Many teens are into playing video games, you may have noticed. Get those creative juices flowing in your teens and ask them what kind of video game they would design? Shh, don’t tell them – but they are in essence writing stories when they put together ideas for video games. They are creating unique worlds, rules of play, characters and more. They don’t actually have to design the game, just outline what it would look like. And I am sure some of your teens will include some unique artwork to help make their visions more clear.

12. Future Tech
Teens are smart, creative people and many of them have ideas about what the next great app, device, or technology breakthrough may be. Some of the greatest science fiction writers speculated about the future and how technology would play a part (think I, Robot), so let’s give our teens the opportunity to do the same.  You can have a simple, straightforward short story or art contest which invites teens to imagine what the future of technology may be. Or you can get together a bunch of materials, think junked computer parts and recylced materials, and you can give them time to create the technology of the future. Then they can tell everyone what their device is, how it would work and how it will impact the future. It’s like Project Fashion but Project Tech. Basically, you are inviting your teens to be Heinz Doofenschmirtz from Phineas and Ferb and create their own “inator”.

If you have more great tech programming ideas, please share them in the comments. If you have a program or idea that goes incredibly well for you, please consider sharing it with us here at TLT as a guess blog post so that other librarians can see and do.  And don’t forget to submit your Teen Tech Week pics as a part of The 2012 Project. You didn’t really think I wouldn’t mention it, did you?


  1. Wow – there are some awesome ideas here. I wish I had used video game design as a writing project when I was still teaching. Thanks for the tips!

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