It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

Danah Boyd. Yale Univ, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-300-16631-6
Boyd, an NYU professor and principal researcher at Microsoft Research, spent eight years exploring the relationship between teens and technology, meeting with teens nationwide, from gang-ridden schools in L.A. to schools in rural Pennsylvania. The text is backed by current research, though the author warns that social media is a “moving landscape” that is constantly evolving. Boyd set out to explain the networked lives of teens to “adults who worry” about the role of technology in kids’ lives, but, as one teen posts online of her romantic status, “It’s complicated.” The author discovers this to be true of the role of technology in teenagers’ lives as well. As she delves into this complex subject, Boyd finds that adults have often used technology as a “punching bag,” blaming and fear-mongering in ways that aren’t helpful to kids, families, or communities. While many adults complain teens are addicted to technology, she argues that kids are actually addicted to their friends and social connections. Today’s teens, Boyd asserts, have less freedom than teens of yore; with structured environments and schedules, less free time, less geographic freedom, and not as many places to hang out face-to-face. As a result, they create their own online meeting places where they can gather and interact. Students, parents, and educators will find this a comprehensive study of how technology impacts teens’ lives and how adults can help balance rather than vilify its inevitable use. Agent: Kristine Dahl, ICM. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/09/2013
Release date: 02/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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