Ask an Agent: Minecraft, loudness, & online bullying

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Question: We have a HUGE Minecraft culture among our teens and tweens at our library, and it is presenting some unique problems. In addition to other patron’s concerns (noise levels, using the computers all day for gaming, etc.) there seems to be an issue with online bullying, which is harder to detect and to enforce rules that aren’t completely arbitrary. Any tips for how to make and enforce effective policies on online bullying (or general crowd control)?

Jennifer (South San Francisco Public Library) says:

I have told my students/patrons before that if I get complaints from others, they get one warning and are then kicked off the computer for the rest of that day.  As far as arguments/bullying/crowd control, I’ve told the teens that I expect them to resolve their own differences, and if they can’t, I will kick them off the computers for the day.  It seems harsh, but they need to learn to work together and resolve differences, and they won’t do that if I spend my whole time being a referee. In both cases I’ve found I have to remove people from the computers maybe once or twice and then they begin policing themselves as far as noise or arguments are concerned.

Andrea (TSU) says:

When kids/teens get loud on the computers, I usually will give them a warning or two. If after that, they can’t control themselves, then I tell it’s time to get off or pick another game. If the complaints are coming from other patrons, then I try to be a little more heavy handed. People do use the labs for work, so reasonable volume needs to be respected. We started doing monthly Minecraft programs in the meeting rooms, where the kids can be a little louder, to help with this as well. It’s hard when they get so excited, so pulling them out of the public areas has helped a lot.

As for the bullying, I’ve always told my teens they need to tell me. If they don’t tell me, I can’t do anything. It’s even harder when they don’t tell me in the moment, but at least if it’s after the fact I can keep a closer eye on those groups/individuals next time. I would suggest making signs/rules that say that the library is a safe space and that all teens are to be respected and bullying will not be tolerated. I would then work with your library/department and determine what the consequences are going to be; and build in what you’ll do with repeat offenders. I personally would start with losing computer priveleges for the day and building up from there.

 

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