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It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens [Kindle Edition]

danah boyd
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"An exhaustively researched study of how teens use technology . . . and a manifesto on how parents as individuals and society as a whole let young people down when they insist on protection and paternalism over media literacy and critical thinking. Even readers who are not parents, or teens, may well find this one of the most interesting books of the year."—Amy Benfer, Los Angeles Times
(Amy Benfer Los Angeles Times)

"A passionate, scholarly, and vividly described account of the reality of young peoples' use of networked technologies in America today. Painstakingly researched through interviews and close study for more than a decade, boyd's book is the most important analysis of networked culture I've yet to read."—Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
(Cory Doctorow BoingBoing)

"It’s Complicated is both a report from the front lines and a larger social analysis. . . . It probes much deeper than just the latest fads in Twitter gossip or Snapchat goofiness . . . On one level it is designed to counter the paranoia and anxiety that many parents still feel about their children’s engagement in social media. . . . But on another level it is a poignant critique of contemporary civilization . . . The briefest possible summary? The kids are all right, but society isn’t."—Andrew Leonard, Salon
(Andrew Leonard Salon)

"danah boyd . . . is one of my favorite people to talk with about teenagers and technology. That’s not because I agree with her all the time. . . . But danah is the best kind of sparring partner because she always tells me something I didn’t know along the way. That holds true with her new book, which offers interviews with teenagers in communities across the country. By filtering them through her distinct danah lens, she gleans valuable insights."—Emily Bazelon, Slate
(Emily Bazelon Slate)

"Based on a decade of research and interviews with adolescents from the suburbs to the inner city, It’s Complicated is a persuasive anti-alarmist polemic that should help ease parents’ concerns about all sorts of Internet bogeymen."—Randye Hoder, TIME Health & Family
(Randye Hoder TIME Health & Family)

"A fascinating, well-researched and (mostly) reassuring look at how today's tech-savvy teenagers are using social media."—People
(People)

“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.”—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

“boyd’s extensive research illuminates the oft-misunderstood world of teens today, where social media is an extension of life . . . Thorough information interwoven with common-sense advice from teens and the author enable readers, particularly parents, to relax a bit regarding this new media age . . . Comprehensive new research that illuminates why and how social media is important to teens.”—Kirkus Reviews
(Kirkus Reviews)

"The key point is that social behaviour is adaptive, and people in power (ie parents) rarely understand the coping strategies being used by others. When adults start worrying about our children’s use of the internet, we should also ask what we can learn from our children—and then look in the mirror at our own behaviour too. And have the courage to give kids more freedom physically to roam in the 'real' world— alongside their travels in cyberspace."—Gillian Tett, Financial Times
(Gillian Tett Financial Times)

"In explaining the networked realm of teens, boyd has the insights of a sociologist, the eye of a reporter, and the savvy of a technologist. For parents puzzled about what their kids are doing online, this is an indispensable book."—Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute, author of Steve Jobs
(Walter Isaacson 2013-07-29)

"If you want to understand the digital worlds inhabited by today's young people, this is the book to read."—Howard Gardner, coauthor of The App Generation
(Howard Gardner 2013-08-07)

"Boyd has done her homework and listened well. She is a high-tech medium translating the language and meaning of teenagers and social networking."—Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues and In the Body of the World
(Eve Ensler 2013-10-13)

"I want to get this publication into the hands of every teacher, parent, policy maker, and journalist. Thoughtful in her analysis and adept at skewering the most common misunderstandings and anxieties about teens' online lives, boyd is the best possible person to write a book like this, and this book does not disappoint in any way."—Henry Jenkins, coauthor of Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Networked Culture
(Henry Jenkins 2013-07-26)

“Astute, nuanced, provocative and hopeful, boyd does it all in this must-read treatise on teens and their digital lives.”—Stephen Balkam, Founder and CEO, Family Online Safety Institute
(Stephen Balkam 2013-07-30)

"danah boyd is one of the smartest people thinking about how teenagers use the Internet—a topic of enormous importance to parents, me included. Her book is smart, sophisticated, and imbued throughout with a rare and wonderful sensitivity to the real, lived experiences of teenagers. Read it to understand what they're doing online, and why—you'll come away enlightened!"—Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy
(Emily Bazelon 2013-08-13)

"Impeccably researched, written and argued, danah boyd's It's Complicated is essential reading for anyone with even the slightest interest in teens or social media."—Justine Larbalestier, author of Liar and Zombies versus Unicorns
(Justine Larbalestier 2013-08-22)

"Crucial reading for anyone who wants to understand the nuances and hard realities of being a teenager in our networked world. (I'm looking at you, parents, policy makers, and YA writers.)"—Scott Westerfeld, author of Uglies
(Scott Westerfeld 2013-08-23)

"Finally, a book about youth and social media that actually gives youth a voice! The insights here offer unprecedented perspective for parenting and teaching in this networked world of ours."—Anne Collier, co-director ConnectSafely.org, writer NetFamilyNews.org
(Anne Collier 2013-08-30)

"For the price of two grande frappucinos, you can buy this book . . . and young people will make sense."—Nancy Lublin, CEO, DoSomething.org
(Nancy Lublin 2013-09-23)

“A rare teens'-eye view into the often mystifying changes to our everyday communication, boyd's book offers a voice of reason in the often heated debates over young people and technology.”—Mizuko Ito, University of California, Irvine
(Mizuko Ito 2013-09-24)

“boyd always moves beyond conventional wisdom when it comes to understanding teen online behavior. It's invaluable to have here the results of her years of study.”—Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder, BlogHer
(Elisa Camahort Page 2013-09-30)

“The book took a decade to complete, and cites sociologists including Michel Foucault and Erving Goffman, but it’s the voices of the 166 teenagers Boyd interviewed across America that make it a truly enlightening read.”—Jane Mulkerrins, The Sunday Telegraph
(Jane Mulkerrins The Sunday Telegraph 2014-03-02)

It’s Complicated, a new book about teenagers and digital technology by the media scholar danah boyd, places today’s smartphones, iPads and laptops in the context of this perennial power struggle between adolescents and parents. In doing so, it adds much to our understanding of a young generation of hyper-connected, hybrid consumer-producers – a cohort whose behaviour often unites parents, educators and investors in collective bewilderment.”—Gautam Malkani, The Financial Times
(Gautam Malkani The Financial Times 2014-03-01)

“[T]here is something marvellously sensible about Boyd’s resolutely academic style. . .Boyd’s anatomy of teenage life is penetrating”—Jane Shilling, The Sunday Telegraph

  (Jane Shilling The Sunday Telegraph 2014-03-16)

‘[T]here are. . .a lot of interesting observations here: that most teenagers aren’t “digital natives” as we like to believe.’—Carole Cadwalladr, The Observer (Carole Cadwalladr The Observer 2014-03-23)

It's Complicated champion[s] a rich, complex idea of what youth is about, and view[s] with horror the way adult discussions so often reduce the young to mute metrics.’—Simon Ings, New Scientist (Simon Ings New Scientist 2014-03-22)

‘Boyd’s slim academic study makes a compelling case that today’s teenagers are more adept at navigating [the] dilemmas of the social media age than we old crusties aged 20 and over.’—Helen Lewis, New Statesman
(Helen Lewis New Statesman 2014-04-11)

"boyd’s new book is layered and smart . . . It’s Complicated will update your mind.”—Alissa Quart, New York Times Book Review
(Alissa Quart New York Times Book Review)

From the Author

How are teenagers’ lives different today?
 
The most visible difference is, of course, technology. Many of today's youth have access to tools that allow them to connect to people and information in unprecedented ways. Yet this is not actually the most salient difference between now and the past. Teens today are also more heavily constrained in their mobility, more regulated in terms of their time and activities, and under more pressure than those from previous generations. This means that they have fewer opportunities to socialize in unstructured, face-to-face settings. Technology often serves as a relief valve, allowing teens to hang out with friends when getting together isn't otherwise possible.
 
What most surprised you from your interviews of teens?
 
Given the plethora of concerns about social media, I expected to see problems everywhere. I was most surprised to find that most teens had a perfectly healthy relationship with technology and that many of the struggles they faced were age-old issues made more visible through social media. I found that the newness of technology distracted many well-intended adults from helping young people with the challenges they do face.
 
What topics dominate society’s conversations about youth? How would you change the focus?
 
Most conversations that focus on teens' use of social media—and their lives more generally—center on the risks youth face. While it's important to protect youth from dangers, a society based on fear-mongering is not healthy. Let's instead talk about how we can help youth be passionate, engaged, constructive members of society rather than how we can protect them from statistically anomalous dangers. Let's understand those teens who are truly at risk; these teens often have the least support.


Praise for It's Complicated:

"danah boyd is one of the smartest people thinking about how teenagers use the Internet—a topic of enormous importance to parents, me included. Her book is smart, sophisticated, and imbued throughout with a rare and wonderful sensitivity to the real, lived experiences of teenagers. Read it to understand what they're doing online, and why—you'll come away enlightened!"—Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
163 of 200 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It sure is complicated.

Spoiler Alert: As a psychotherapist, school counselor and educator, having spent much of my adult life working with teens and families, I have some serious problems with "It's Complicated." The main problems: This book was written by a researcher who neither takes a political stand on an inherently political issue nor does she make clear her biases in analysis of the "data" under consideration. In the end, the book suffers from a kind of blindness about what's right in front of her--that the impact and bi-directional effects of social media in the lives of our teens may not (and cannot) be seen for decades. The jury is and should be still out, and boyd's work may function to close the case on an incredibly complex set of issues that will require decades of study. What's the big deal, and why write such a long review? Because boyd is highly influential, because this book will be a best-seller and make her a bunch of money and because while she may be an expert in media studies and a preeminent researcher, she is NOT an expert in adolescent development. While this book clearly demonstrates a mastery of what teens are doing with social media, it demonstrates glaring errors and highly problematic interpretations of WHY they are doing what they do and say they are doing.

boyd has been called the "high priestess of the Internet" by the Financial Times, an internationally-recognized authority on how people (mostly teens) navigate the online world. Thought of as a brilliant ethnographer of adolescent digital natives, danah (that's not a typo, with the lower-case "d" and "b") boyd's rise to the top of the top of the world of experts about what teens are doing online has been meteoric.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I Strongly Disagree. August 3, 2014
Format:Hardcover
Here's what I know: my 15 year old daughter is happier, more cooperative, respectful, stable, active, and overall better behaved when she's unplugged from all the media and tech. I believe my first hand knowledge that comes from living with a teenage child is in many ways equivalent or better than Boyd's longitudinal studies. Children are not miniature adults and need limits, guidance, and structure.

It doesn't seem that Boyd has read other research such as "Technopoly" by Neil Postman, or "Alone Together" by Shelly Turkle, or "The Narcissism Episemic" by Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell, or "The Digital Pandemic" by Mark Hicks, or "Cyber Junkie" by Kevin Roberts, or "Weapons of Mass Instruction" by John Gatto, or "Boys Adrift" by Leonard Sax, or "iDisorder" by Larry Rosen, or "The Big Disconnect" by Giles Slade, or "Finding Flow" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, or "Quiet" by Susan Cain. Maybe she read "The Shallows" by Nicholas Carr. However, she probably disagreed with it.

Well I disagree with Boyd. I have read everyone of those books whose authors have an astounding collection of credentials, experience, and research. They all say the same thing: less tv, internet, video games, cell phones, and social media is better for us and our kids. Less screen time, connectivity, dependence on machines, and digital interaction will allow us all to live more productive and enjoyable lives. People who think otherwise are kidding themselves and have been seduced by the grand illusion of technology.

Her book title "It's Complicated" is accurate if you allow your child all the access and freedoms they want with online activity. It doesn't have to be complicated if we as parents, teachers, counselors, doctors, researchers, and scientists see that what kids need is not more tech but balance, guidance, care and support, love, and face-to-face human contact.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
For anyone who has been following research around youth and social networks over the past decade, this book has long been awaited. boyd has been and remains one of the most important cultural scholars of her generation, someone who is deeply grounded in the everyday practices around new media, someone who herself speaks as a member of the first wave of the so-called "digital natives" (a concept she deftly critiques and dissects throughout this book), someone who has been actively involved in public policy debates, who has developed a deep and intimate understanding of the lives that young people are living in the digital age, and someone who, through her vantage point at Microsoft Research, is on top of the cutting edge developments coming out of the digital industries. In short, she's the best possible person to write a book like this, and the book she has produced does not disappoint me in any way.

The book is a consolidation of danah's greatest hits through the years -- building upon her early work that sought to explain what distinguishes online social interactions from earlier venues where teens hung out and cut the crap with their classmates, taking us through her startling discoveries about various forms of segregation within online communities, and into her more recent work on bullying and harassment in cyberspace or her growing interest in understanding how youth manage their privacy while dealing with the range of unintended eyes that often are reading everything they post online. Each of these contributions to the field were significant on their own, but they gain greater clarity and resonance when read against each other across the flow of this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read book for parents of teens & pre-teens
Very informative, well-researched book that is a must-read for any parent of teens or pre-teens. Danah dispels the myths behind online predation and makes the case for the... Read more
Published 11 days ago by John W. Lanza
2.0 out of 5 stars Good quality book physically but poorly written
Good quality book physically but poorly written. Inaccurate description of teenagers' use of technology. Repetitive and poorly written. Offers somewhat of an interesting insight.
Published 20 days ago by Sabina
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening take on technology in teens lives
‘Today’s teens spend too much time on their mobile phones.’ ‘Teens don’t understand the dangers of the internet. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Caroline Greyling (Author of Five: Maor book one)
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good read! I love that I can start at any chapter and jump from one to another.
Published 1 month ago by MannyME
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Great book, worth the read.
Published 1 month ago by Omar Ziadeh
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good!
This was a great read! Very insightful
Published 2 months ago by Jonathan Forney
4.0 out of 5 stars An informative work
Like many of us with grandkids, I worry about their pending intersection with social media. There are horror stories out there. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Liz Cole
4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding transcends fear and alleviates divisions
The interesting thing about this book is that for the majority of the text one could substitute the word "teens" for "people" and most of the arguments and findings... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Be Peace
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Too much detail. I would prefer the summary
Published 3 months ago by al
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved this book and a different viewpoint on how the social world of our teens is complicated.
Published 3 months ago by Jennifer Murphy
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