Selected Reads

Summary of It’s Complicated: Understanding The Social Lives of Networked Teens, by danah boyd

In It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, danah boyd dives deep into the social lives of teens and cast a reflective look on the impact of new technologies and social media on their behaviour. This book is a culmination of a decade worth of research and ethnographic studies the author conducted with teens across the United States.

It's Complicated danah boyd

boyd has been very much critical of the paternalistic and protectionist approach adopted by many parents towards their youngsters online activities. Acknowledging the negative aspects of social media and digital networking, boyd also advances a more optimistic view towards their technologies and providing various compelling reasons why teens do what they do online. For boyd, teens suffer from a gap in communication. Here is she eloquently stated it:

As I began to get a feel for the passions and frustrations of teens and to speak to broader audiences, I recognized that teens’ voices rarely shaped the public discourse surrounding their networked lives. So many people talk about youth engagement with social media, but very few of them are willing to take the time to listen to teens, to hear them, or to pay attention to what they have to say about their lives, online and off. I wrote this book to address that gap.

Social media, as the author stated, plays an important role in teens’ life. It provides them with a virtual space where they can meet and socialize. boyd’s ultimate message is that teens 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.”

Some of the topics boyd covers in this book include:

  • Identity: why do teens seem strange online ?
  • Privacy: why do youth share so publicly ?
  • Addiction: what makes teens obsessed with social media ?
  • Danger: are sexual predators lurking everywhere ?
  • Bullying: is social media amplifying meanness and cruelty ?
  • Inequality: can social media resolve social divisions ?
  • Literacy: are today’s youth digital natives ?

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