OK this is purely fabricated, because you can’t be interrupted in chat, but if you could, this chat would not be out of the ordinary….
Teen brains are wildly different than our own – frontal lobe is planning and judgment, and it’s still developing (with a big jump @ 11/12 y.o.); The amygdala (ah MIG dala) is more “in charge” in teens and reactions trump rational thought coming from the frontal cortexThey are building their boundaries, especially those with strangers – learning the idea of consequence and cause and effect when it comes to their actions3. It’s more fun if you’re not the only one doing it, hence 5 chats at once from a classroom4. Kidsand teens have grown up using the Internet, and more importantly, using mobile devices – they expect quick and easy answers from us, while many adults are in still in “shock and awe” mode when it comes to chatMany teens are quicker at using the internet, but not necessarily better; they don’t know that you know kung fu!5. Novelty of talking to a stranger – can go either way – it often makes it a “grown up experience” where kids are on their best behavior, but it can also be very tempting to kids who know it’s your job to be on chat – they will take advantage
-- if a teen has a positive experience now, she’ll remember it when she’s voting – negative? Never coming back.-- Oftentimes teen librarians or others working with teens will refer to these assets when planning programs or projects: the 40 Development Assets were created by the SEARCH Institute – they are 40 things a teen must learn or experience in order to grow into a productive, well adjusted adult; -- Think about it: someone told them about this service, probably a colleague of yours, doing outreach – they trusted the library enough to try this out – thought we could help them, they clicked, they waited (even when you pick up fast, it can be long wait), the explained their problem – all of this is amazing patience for a teen – REWARD THEM
I want to leave lots of time for Q&A, because we’ve all seen so much – especially if you’re not used to working with teens
Think of this every time a teen comes in: they chose to reach out to you toask a question – this is your chance to let them know how awesomelibraries/librarians can be. BE POSITIVE and involve them. Take a deep breath – this is not the time to slack and to assume it’s going to be easyWhile you’re working, try shooting out things like “so do you like this class?” or “have you guys been working on ____ for awhile?” – this keeps them typing, lessens impatience, and shows you’re interested in what you’re both working on together at the moment; it doesn’t take a lot of energy and it goes a long way toward creating a lively and positive chat
This is all about Patron education & Setting Expectations
You want to maintain a cycle of acknowledging and moving things forward. This can be repeated throughout the chat.--Treatment or PERSONALIZED information wrangling, whatever works to convey that you are going to continue working on this question for them and they can get an answer later, like magic!
You know the type: they seem to want to get questions answered, but keep wandering(Education: I’m at work, this is my job)I’m giving you specific phrases, but this is more so you can see some neutral, friendly language that you can adapt – nothing is going to work 100% of the timeREMEMBER, always try to get back to the task at hand!!!! The cycle of acknowledge and move on…Allof these are assuming they actually want their question answered…
Send them somewhere interesting, and there’s no need to type anything about this being for “real questions only” – instead, leave the door open for them to come back when they have something they want to know.
You know the chat shift: National Queue, 3pm on a Sunday, homework that’s been avoided all week is being done – you don’t know the school, you don’t know the project, you can’t ask to see the assignment, what do you do?“English History” – huh? Try asking what class this is for, if they remember what other things they were studying when this came up…WheneverI get a question that sounds like it’s for a PRO or CON paper – I ask “Did you get to choose which side you’re writing about?” Ask what they think of things, make them invest in the exchange.Push homework help if you have it: . I usually say something like “They know a lot more about ______ than I do.” or “Trust me, if this is Algebra you do not want my help.”Let them know they need their library card, and what times the help is available!
Let them know you’re alone! They probably haven’t thought about the logistics – for all they know they get on a screen and 1,000 trained monkeys are on the other end, or a robot…
Teen Link is partnered with Crisis Clinic – it’s staffed by teens, and callers can talk about anything – invaluable resourceInform them: they may think you do this for fun – let them know it’s your job and you need to help as many people as you can
It may feel weird, but letting a teen know that a real person is reading what they write can bring them back into orbit.This is from colleague Kreg, and I’ve used it myself. Acknowledge, move on.For the kids who just type in dirty words – reply with definitions (one or two, then send them link to m-w.com and log off) – high embarrassment factor friends watching
A good thing to say is: “This violates our rules of conduct – this wouldn’t be acceptable in a library, so it’s not cool on chat.”If they keep logging on, and especially if they are sick of you, pick it up, why spread the misery? They give up if you don’t respond.
We have a few URL scripts for these @ SPL; the Bacolicious is very popularPick something cool – do you have a Learning Express Library? I once showed someone how to take a cosmetology exam for funWE SAY IT’S NOT FOR IDLE CHATTER, but take the opportunity to start a conversation, show you’re a person, just like you would at a reference desk with someone who wandered in off the street!!!!
When Teens Attack: Tips for Dealing with 12 Year Olds and Other Difficult Customers on Chat Reference
TELL ME NOW! <br />Assyrian culture I need it for school NOW NOW! <br />Are you stupid? *$&##!! <br />Patron ended chat session.<br />When Teens Attack!Tips for dealing with 12 year olds and other difficult customers on chat reference<br />
Purely Fabricated Example<br />YOU: Hi there!<br />TEEN: ENGLAND FARMING<br />YOU: Okay, farming in England – do you want info about farming now, farming in the past…<br />TEEN: OLD<br />YOU: Okay, so old farming<br />TEEN: I NEED ARTICLES<br />TEEN: I NEED IT NOW<br />YOU: Got it, let me grab you some <br />TEEN: YOU ARE SLOW<br />TEEN: WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID?<br />YOU: Here’s a good link that<br />TEEN: Patron ended chat session.<br />YOU: Awesome.<br />
Why are they SO DIFFICULT on chat?<br />Teens have slower access to the frontal cortex, the “CEO” of our brains – decision making skills and impulse control are affected<br />Testing their boundaries & sphere of influence<br />They like to hunt in groups <br />This medium isn’t new to them: they have higher expectations<br />It’s a novelty to talk to a non-peer stranger online (for many)<br />
Why should we care?<br />It’s Whitney Houston time: Teens Are Our Future (lawmakers, taxpayers, potential advocates) – possibly our one chance to make an impression<br />Hits some of the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets:<br />Community Values Youth, Neighborhood Boundaries, Adult Role Models, High Expectations, Achievement Motivation, Responsibility, and Interpersonal Competence<br /> They went through a lot to get to the screen in front of you – make it worth their while.<br />
Be Positive & Engaged<br />Act like you would on a really good day at the reference desk – try to bring that interaction to the chat medium.<br />Take a deep breath, find some energy<br />“Oh! That’s a good question!”<br />Make small talk, keep up the conversation – they can’t see your smile or your nodding<br />“Do you like this class?”<br />Constant updates, tell what you’re doing<br />
Be In Charge<br />Play to the fact that you’rean authority figure, if you want to be…<br />Give clear, easy to follow instructions<br />Tell them WHY or HOW<br />Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself<br />Set expectations: “I’m going to answer your questions one at a time and in order, okay? Let’s start with _____.”<br />
Establish a Cycle of Acknowledgement & Moving Forward<br />“Thanks for being cool about waiting – this can take awhile. I really appreciate it.” <br />“I’m going to get to all of your questions but I’m working as quickly as I can. How about you read that first link I sent you while I work?” <br />If they can’t sit still, offer to get back to them – tell them it’s the LUXURY Treatment<br />Acknowledge Impatience<br />
The Art of Refocusing<br />I hate this class. The teacher sucks. “I really want to help you get this paper started. Let’s get back to _________.”<br />Are you a girl? “It doesn’t matter whether I’m a boy or a girl. Think of me as an awesome information robot.”<br />Where do you live? “Eh, I don’t tell that to strangers. Back to your question!”<br />Why can’t you talk with me?“I WISH it were my job to sit and chat all day but I have to get this question finished for you so I can help other people.” <br />
Is there even a question?<br />Maybe not. Sometimes they are just bored. This is okay. Teens are bored 99% of the time. <br />“This service is for real questions only.”<br />We want you to come back.<br />
Homework Hellions<br />Ask what they’ve done already<br />Treat them like a partner in your search for an answer – encourage them to work it out with you as you go<br />If the question makes no sense, ask if they know what it means; likewise, if it’s an opinion/essay type question, ask what they think – get them percolating!<br />If it still doesn’t make sense, ask what’s “around” the question – what class? What topic are they studying? Do they remember anything else about the assignment?<br />Push Homework Help if you have it.<br />
Crowd Control<br />Let’s say you have what seems like 20 kids all logging in at once. Think quickly of a way to create a flow you can work with (especially if you’re solo). Here are some example questions/solutions you can use:<br />“Are you in a class?”<br /> “Can you guys get into small groups and ask questions together?”<br />“How much time do you guys have left in your class?”“Could you wait 5 minutes before asking another question?”<br />“You can share my answers if some of you have the same question.”“What’s your email address? I can give you better answers if you can wait an hour or two – I can email you the answers and information later today.”<br />
If they seem like they really need to talk to someone, suggest Teen Link (1-866-TEENLINK) <br />Find the question in all the chat: if they are complaining about their boyfriend, send them advice books, links, etc. <br />Consider their boredom a problem to solve: give them an interesting link, just like you’d give them a good book<br />The Chatterers<br />
Know that your teen librarians may be promoting chat as a service for teens to ask about sex.<br />You may be the only person they can ask right now.<br />Take these questions seriously. It’s possible they are trying to get a reaction, but assume they aren’t.<br />A great resource:IPL’s “Frequently Asked Embarrassing Questions” (http://www.ipl.org/div/faeq/)is a list of helpful advice/FAQ websites for kids & teens<br />Sex?!<br />
We’re setting expectations and defining boundaries – let kids know they’ve crossed the line.<br />Be honest: “That offended me.” “I don’t appreciate that.” “That’s really disrespectful.” “I’m trying to help you.”<br />“That’s classy. Now let’s get to the question.”<br />Use m-w. com for dirty word bombing<br />Rude Comments<br />
If your library has a Rules of Conduct, enforce them – treat chat like your physical space. <br />Abusive repeat offender? Pick up their chat(s) and let them hang until they get tired of it – don’t leave it for colleagues to deal with if you know what’s in store.<br />No, I mean Really Rude Comments<br />
If you remember just one thing:<br />Teens aren’t done growing. Their brains are different,<br />and we can’t expect them to display the same impulse<br />control and judgment as adults. <br />Accept it and even embrace it if you can – chatting<br />with teens can break up the monotony of a day and<br />can be FUN if you relax and go with it.<br />Be Zen. Be open.<br />
LINKS for chatters who could possibly die of boredom in the next 2 minutes<br />Bacolicious!Especially fun to send w/ library’s URL: http://bacolicio.us/http://www.spl.org<br />Bored.comhttp://www.bored.com<br />Color Traces<br />http://lab.andre-michelle.com/color-traces(this website has tons of interesting visualization – Flash required)<br />SNOPES Urban Legendshttp://snopes.com/<br />Googlismhttp://www.googlism.com/<br />Fun Trivia: The Trivia & Quiz Community<br />http://www.funtrivia.com/<br />
More reading<br />Frontline: Inside the Teenage Brainhttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/<br />The Teen Brain: It's Just Not Grown Up Yethttp://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124119468<br />Teens and Chat Reference: A Match Made in Heaven or…..? http://ri.webjunction.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=440784&name=DLFE-11828.pdf<br />40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents (Search Institute)<br />http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18<br />