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It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens    by Danah Boyd Amazon.com order for
It's Complicated
by Danah Boyd
Order:  USA  Can
Yale University Press, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Parents and teachers will find that Danah Boyd's It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens is rather helpful in figuring out why staying connected to social media is so important to young adults.

Depending on the generation, teens have found various places to congregate and hang out. The malt shop gave way to the shopping mall just as playground basketball courts were replaced by neighborhood skateboard venues.

In today's world, social media offer a teen places to hang out and network with other teens. As the author stresses, these sites are continually changing and will unquestionably do so in the future. Although the sites and apps might change, that won't alter the fact that social media in various forms will continue to be important elements in a young person's life. Of course, some people would say that is also true of adults as well.

In this book Danah Boyd explains how and why social media have become so important in the lives of so many American teens and how they navigate the networked publics that are created through these ever expanding technologies.

The author also addresses the anxieties that many adults, especially parents, have about teens' engagement with social media. Where once mom and dad were worried that their child spent too much time talking on the telephone, now that concern is focused on some type of handheld device.

'Teens are passionate about finding their place in society,' writes Boyd. 'What is different as a result of social media is that teens' perennial desire for social connection and autonomy is now being expressed in networked publics.'

A young person is drawn to these publics because he or she desires to be part of the broader world by connecting with other people. This is also why many parents are worried; they are afraid of the kinds of ideas and people their teenager will connect with in an environment which they can't control.

As she delves into this broad topic, Boyd discusses a number of issues, such as privacy, addiction, bullying, and the danger of encountering sexual predators. These and a number of other issues underpin youth engagement with social media and need to be rationally addressed. That is one of the goals of this book.

Given the nature of the technology, the author also admits that change is coming so quickly that some of the things she mentions (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) could well be rather passť in just a matter of years, but, Boyd continues, 'the core principles and practices I'm trying to describe are likely to persist long after this book is published'.

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