It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens
by danah boyd*
(Yale University Press, 2014, 281 pages)
As a parent of two teenagers, I had to read this book after hearing about it on NPR. Author boyd, a scholar and a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, spent several years interviewing teens from a variety of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds in order to examine how and why teens are using the Internet and social media. The conclusion? Widespread panic about teens, technology and social media is overblown. boyd wants parents and educators “to take a chill pill.” While I agree with most of boyd’s discussions, and I could use a “chill pill” at times, I continue to believe that parents need to closely monitor their teens’ online lives.
boyd states that teens have not changed. Social media and new technology are just tools that teens use to entertain and socialize. Readers are introduced to extensive data and thorough analyses on how teens interact and socialize in the online world. Chapters on identity, addiction, bullying, inequality and literacy should prove helpful to teachers and counselors who work with teens. Unfortunately, most of the primary documents boyd utilized were 4-7 years old. A “recent” observation of a high school football game used in the book’s Introduction was conducted in 2010. It makes me wish the author could have updated the book with newer material. It’s surprising to read a book about new technology only to discover that a lot of stories referenced MySpace, the most popular social network site in the early to mid-2000s. One topic I wish the author could have covered is online/technology etiquette. Nonetheless, it’s an informative and engaging scholarly book. I highly recommend this book to teachers and parents of teens.
*this isn’t a mistake, the author chooses not to capitalize her name