Popular Culture is not something that ever really age. What was cool once, becomes cool again. One only have to look into the Pokemon Go trend, and see that 20+ years ago, another generation loved it just as much as today’s youngsters. Popular Culture is sometimes seen as a passing trend, and yes, in many instances it is but for Libraries, it is also a wonderful opportunity to engage with kids and teens.
In my house live two teenagers, and quite frequently, they are ‘bored’. Not that there isn’t anything for them to do around the house but the most popular activity they love to engage in, also involves using up most of the household data allowance halfway through the month! Yes, I’m talking about YouTube, or more specifically, them watching people playing games on YouTube. If you don’t have teens, or tweens, you’re probably arching an eyebrow now and thinking ‘what the??’. I know I did.
It is not all a complete waste of time though. Surprisingly they learn to improve their own gameplay through watching, and even find friends online with similar interests. Think pen pals from years gone by, another popular pastime in our culture of yesteryears. Of course nowadays us parents have to be very alert and tech-savvy to make sure our young stay as safe as possible, one cannot just burn the mail as apparently my Mum did with some of my pen pal letters back in the 80’s! Never mind, I’m not completely scarred for life, and neither will our kids be by the rules we have to enforce where it comes to technology.
ACMA reports that since 2011, there have been a 69% increase in teens accessing the Internet online, and the most popular Internet destination for watching online content is YouTube. ACMA further reports that 64% access the Internet from educational institutions, but only a mere 26% use the library Internet. So, does this mean that libraries are not reaching teens? I am sad to say that my two definitely do not find our local library welcoming at all, as it mostly caters for the First Five Forever crowd.
However, more libraries are implementing programs to cater for teenagers, and are making an effort to engage with them through Popular Culture. By offering school holiday activities, after school clubs, coding workshops and writing groups, teens and tweens increasingly have the opportunity to rather go and use the free Internet at the library. And hopefully grab a book or two to read at home for when they have used up all their monthly data allowance halfway through the month!