What is new about how teenagers communicate through services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Do social media affect the quality of teens' lives? In this eye-opening book, youth culture and technology expert Danah Boyd uncovers some of the major myths regarding teens' use of social media. She explores tropes about identity, privacy, safety, danger, and bullying. Ultimately, Boyd argues that society fails young people when paternalism and protectionism hinder teenagers' ability to become informed, thoughtful, and engaged citizens through their online interactions. Yet despite an environment of rampant fear-mongering, Boyd finds that teens often find ways to engage and to develop a sense of identity.
Boyd's conclusions are essential reading not only for parents, teachers, and others who work with teens but also for anyone interested in the impact of emerging technologies on society, culture, and commerce in years to come. Offering insights gleaned from more than a decade of original fieldwork interviewing teenagers across the United States, Boyd concludes reassuringly that the kids are all right. At the same time, she acknowledges that coming to terms with life in a networked era is not easy or obvious. In a technologically mediated world, life is bound to be complicated.
©2014 Danah Boyd (P)2014 Audible Inc.
Shamelessly geeky; mathematically delicious.
Let me get this out of the way first: I'm not the intended audience for this book. I graduated in 2005, when everyone in class had a live journal, MySpace was steadily moving towards its peak in popularity, and the first inklings of Facebook were starting to surface. In other words, while the services were still in their infancy, I was one of the "networked teens" that Boyd talks about in this book. "It's Complicated," however, is aimed squarely at parents who don't get the social networking phenomena, and want to understand what their kids are up to. This disconnect left me feeling somewhat disappointed in how remedial the content is.
With that said, as a person who grew up socially networked, Boyd hits the nail on the head with her analysis. Teenagers aren't replacing their real life friendships with social networks, they're using social networks to augment the real world bonds that exist and to overcome the barriers put between themselves and their friends. This should come as no surprise to the generations that have used these services, but it may still be reassuring to the parents that didn't.
The argument that Boyd puts together is cogent and interesting. She uses an effective mix of data and anecdotes to educate the reader on how social networks are really used by today's youth, being careful to avoid the hyperbole employed by both staunch opponents to social networks and overzealous supporters of the form. Social networks aren't destroying the youth of today, but they're not creating a glorious utopia, either. The more things change, the more things stay the same is the mantra of this book.
The reading is good. Wendell has an intellectual tone that matches the quality of the book; it feels like a long-form lecture from a college professor.
My only complaint comes from personal audience mismatch. As someone who used social networks as a teen, I was curious about how services that are used now differ from what I used. Also, considering how different networks have different cultures surrounding them, I was hoping for descriptions of those unique cultures (e.g. how does YouTube differ from tumblr?). This book contained none of that, and was mildly disappointing as a result.
Still, if you didn't grow up with texting, blogs, or facebook, you'll probably learn a lot from "It's Complicated."
Not only to friends, but to everyone. This is a book that provides thoughtful insight into and discussion about how our society is, and in many cases is not, adapting and integrating the 'internet' and the tools one uses to connect to it. The framework of the book is networking on the internet, but the book reaches down to the fundamentals of teens themselves: who teens think they are, their goals and ambitions (immediate and future), what motivates them to behave in the manners they do. It is also about how people, parents, teachers, policy makers, lawmakers, police, private space owners and the public in general perceive teens: our beliefs, fears, expectations, etc. and how we regard them in light of our experiences (experiences that are not at all comparable to to theirs--they live in a very different world than we did when we were growing up). Thoughtful discussions based on interviews with teens and other published literature regarding specific internet networking (social media) issues: privacy, security, bulling, literacy. dana boyd doesn't 'tell' us how to interact with our teens, nor how to 'set limits', protect their 'privacy', prevent 'bullying'--both the giving out of and receiving of --, she sheds "light on the complex and fascinating practices of contemporary American youth as they try to find themselves in the networked world". Her hope is that "you will suspend your assumptions about youth in an effort to understand the social lives of networked teens. By and large, the kids are alright, but they want to be understood." She is very successful in achieving this goal as she motivates us to think about why we think or behave the way we do in relationship to our teens and what the consequences of such thoughts and behaviors might be.
I was reminded to trust my teen, to remember that I have instilled my values, his character and value set has by and large been formed. Therefore as a teen, a person very close to adulthood, needs our trust and the freedom to interact with his world on his terms. In addition, I realize how important it is that I become more active in understanding the internet, how it works and what the policies are governing it, really how the tools & sites work (for example privacy settings), and basically not to fear something I really don't understand.
Thank you dana for such a thoughtful book, a book that doesn't tell me what to do as a parent, but reminds me to think before acting--providing me with enough information so I have a chance at making an educated decision. Thank you for 'making' me look at my teen as a healthy young individual instead of a rebellious, disrespectful, angry person.
"Teens, social networking and media"
Excellent research-informed analysis of how young people engage with, use, and establish their identities through social media. Well paced, informative, clearly narrated insights into a range of topical issues - why certain media become popular (or rapidly unpopular); how dangerous is 'stranger danger'; what is cyber-bullying and why does it occur? The author covers a range of issues canvassed through interviews with young people and their families and friends.
As a parent of three young adults - I found the book informative, interesting, engaging and evidence-based.
Danah Boyd offers useful insights and introduces the reader to a range of important, topical and contentious issues, often demonstrating that the scare-mongering from parents and the press undermines genuine efforts by young people to develop their voice, their agency and their networks, and to interact as equals with others.
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