Customer Reviews


86 Reviews
5 star:
 (53)
4 star:
 (16)
3 star:
 (9)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (4)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important book by one of today's best scholars of digital culture
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...
Published 9 months ago by Henry G. Jenkins

versus
155 of 189 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It sure is complicated: some glaring problems with boyd's work
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...
Published 8 months ago by M. Simon


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

155 of 189 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It sure is complicated: some glaring problems with boyd's work, March 3, 2014
By 
M. Simon (Oakland, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Hardcover)
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. In 2010, when Boyd gave the opening remarks at the highly influential South By Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin her remarks erupted into a firestorm of activity across the tech landscape. People listen to danah michelle boyd and she has the credentials (Microsoft Research, Berkman Center fellow, A.B. in Computer Science from Brown, M.S. in Media Arts and Sciences at MIT and a Ph.D. in New Media at University of California, Berkeley for her dissertation on adolescents utilize the internet as a kind of "networked public" (sphere), carrying out crucial, normative tasks of socialization, creating, maintaining and testing out ways of connecting with others in an increasingly digital world. Impressive.

She considers herself an activist-scholar and her activities and self-presentation make her the darling of a wide range of players in the digital media landscape from academics, tech geeks/nerds, mental health professionals and teens themselves to digital media moguls, neural marketing mavens and individuals at every strata of the corporatist state looking to find the best way to turn adolescents upside down and shake the money out of their pockets.

Boyd herself is a rock star when when it comes to influence and acclaim in the world of social media research. Boyd did not have an easy adolescence. Her path from adolescent pain through the "saving grace" of the Internet (as she refers to it), through Brown University, University of California at Berkeley, M.I.T., Google, Yahoo!, and Tribe, and on to working at Harvard and Microsoft, is not a path that most digital natives follow. As colleague, researcher, and fellow technology champion Clay Shirky writes of her, "The single most important thing about danah is that she's the first anthropologist we've got who comes from the tribe she's studying." In Randye Hode's recent Time online interview about the new book, boyd made a mild (and teen-friendly) plea to parents and teachers:

"There's a large part of me that wants everyone to take a chill pill," says Boyd, who holds positions at Microsoft Research, New York University, and Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. "I want parents and educators to calm down and approach technology with curiosity rather than fear."

Now, I think danah's work is incredibly important, but when she frequently implies that "teenagers are the same as they always were," I just think she's flat-out wrong. And although she argues that teens are still mostly doing everything they've always done, and that they're sharing it online--and this doesn't make them aliens--it just isn't the case, in my opinion, that this means that parents should all breathe a sigh of relief. This is, I fear, danah's ongoing narrative about teens and the Internet as a story about the new/old, exciting/mundane and transformative/conservative public sphere. Pre-release reviews and interviews about Boyd's new book, It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, like Kirkus Review , Slate, and the recent Time online article all repeat the same trope: teens are doing what teens have always done, parents especially "should take a chill pill," and manage their own anxiety about teens and the online world because that's more destructive than what teens are actually doing online. In other words, parents, relax. Widespread panic about teens, technology and social media is overblown. She's got the research and the interviews to prove it. Boyd's book has, for just about every one of the hundreds of reviewers tripping over themselves to sing the praises of this "impeccably researched, written and argued" work, settled the matter. There you have it. The top researcher in digital media and teens says to relax. Teens are teens.

Now this message may not be what boyd wants or intends, and there is some evidence of that because of how intelligently she's written in the past about the potential problems that teens can get into online. But as we know in this digital-media driven society, it's about how things play out in public, in the popular press, not about Truth. Truthiness will do just fine. And the Truthiness of how boyd's work is playing out in the media conveys a powerful, powerful message to parents of teens that often feel overworked, pressured, guilty and intensely anxious about whether they're doing right by their kids--kids with whom they frequently do not have the wherewithal to monitor, guide and act in a leadership role regarding the bi-directional "uses" of digital media. To make the point even stronger: danah is telling parents what they long to hear, and are unprepared to hear otherwise. This makes danah boyd's message, in my opinion, particularly dangerous. Dana (and her significant research) would have us believe that things as the same as they ever were, that teens are going about the socialization tasks inherent in identity development, and whereas they used to do it before at the mall, now they do it online. No big deal. Her job is to translate the codes of previous adolescent developmental tasks into present-day contexts, all the while helping parents understand that their anxiety-ridden meddling in normative development is the problem, not the technology. The whole "it's the technology" versus "its the user" debate should have ended a long time ago, but It's Complicated keeps it alive, and you might guess which one danah picks: It's not the fault of the technology. That would be committing the sin of technological determinism and she has plenty to say about that. Full disclosure about my opinion: it's always both and to think otherwise is, what Marshall McLuhan would have called the "numb stance of the technological idiot."

I've known and worked with 13-year-old teens (several teens, in fact) who self-injured--who cut their wrists, arms, legs, abdomens--and then rapidly disseminated these photos on Instagram, SnapChat or YouTube. This behavior has multiple meanings. "Non-lethal self-injury" or "cutting" as its called is not "new;" it happened before the Internet as we know it. The dissemination of photos or live videos of those bloody wounds to 3,000 people in a matter of seconds wasn't something that happened when danah was navigating the Internet as a teen as a 13 year-old. And this difference matters.

It's not as if boyd doesn't understand and hasn't written extensively about some of the ostensible "dangers" of the Internet. In an online piece about celebritization--that particularly powerful combination of fame, attention and commodification that many teens are pursuing--once wrote, "... I feel like my relationship with the internet has the same cycles of some of my more abusive relationships."

"Widespread celebritization is the flipside of the "attention economy" coin and I think that we have a lot of deep thinking to do about the implications of both of these. Both are already rattling society in unexpected ways and I'm not convinced that we have the social, psychological, or cultural infrastructure to manage what will unfold. Some people will become famous or rich. Others will commit suicide or drown attempting to swim in these rocky waves. This doesn't mean that we should blockade the technologies that are emerging, but it's high time that we start reflecting on the societal values that are getting magnified by them."

So are my worries unfounded? By this quote, it seems that she gets it, in ways that I want and need other adults to get the dangers magnified by digital media use and abuse. The problem is that here, as in other places in boyd's writing, the argument seems proto-schizoid, just like many of the teens "navigating" the Internet and social media.

One the one hand she acknowledges that "celebritization" is part of the attention economy, a way of organizing ourselves where attention is the primary currency teens are seeking and the activities around raising that currency overshadows the negative impact of the same activity. Alain de Botton, for example, has written brilliantly about the pervasive and deleterious effects of status anxiety on the individual and collective psyches, and nowhere is that concept of status anxiety more trenchant than in a consideration of normal adolescent development and adolescent development gone awry. How on the one hand does boyd argue that she's not sure we have the infrastructure to manage the unfolding of the attention economy in the United States (Cf. Douglas Rushkoff's excellent "Generation Like") and that "...others will commit suicide or drown attempting to swim in these rocky waves" and on the other hand deliver to parents the message that they should "take a chill pill" about their teens and the Internet? The schism here seems remarkable. Which parents should take a chill pill, which parents should head for the Celexa and which should call a therapist? Should all parents sit down with their kids (and at what age) to begin teaching media literacy, since "blockading the emerging technologies" is off the table (and impossible, anyhow)? Who gets to decide the signification of what it means to be "media literate?"

I wonder, too, whether boyd has even identified the actual "dangers" and problems that the popular press, in their rush to re-crown boyd as High Priestess of the Internet, has said we can now productively stop worrying about. Is boyd aware of the deep Web? Is boyd aware of the fact that while teens are busy thinking they're creating their own (traditional or disruptive) identities online--rather than the other way around--thousands of data mining companies like BlueKai (now Oracle) or neuromarketing entities like Neurofocus, Buyology or SalesBrain, or massive retailers like Target (not to mention Google/NSA, king of all data mining partnerships) are watching every move you and your teens make using digital media. Duh. Of course she's aware of these things and has written about them.

But, there is a great schism between the facts glancingly acknowledged in the argument and the final presentation to the public. Not only does the argument strike me as schizoid, it strikes me as quintessentially adolescent. That is not an insult, by the way. It's just a way of stating something that brain researchers have demonstrated about how the adolescent brain functions around risk and risk-taking behavior. Adolescent brains, in general, tend to overemphasize the rewards while simultaneously downplaying the risks. Relax, they tell us: this won't happen to me. I'm different. Sometimes they're right. Sometimes there is a huge schism between what they believe and therefore what they put their attention on, and what actually happens while their watchdog brains are busy being distracted by juicy piece of meat.

And just what are teens being distract from, while they're busy with social networking? Just the main function of the Internet for teens (from the point of view of advertising and behavioral targeting gurus): monetizing the self that has been created by the interfacing with digital media--while you and your teens are busy paying attention to the fantastic, fun, transformative content. The "dangers" that boyd would have me, as a parent, educator, and psychotherapist take a chill pill about are dangers that take a long time to unfold, and are not perceived as particularly dangerous by the users (and especially not by the developers) of the technology.

My concern is less about whether teens themselves perceive the Internet as primarily dangerous or emancipatory and more about the power--a power boyd acknowledges and writes about in almost every public utterance--of digital media use to shape the world, the lifeworld and the very self of the teen, and just how the powers that be are going to take advantage of that in a set of complex process that will feel "natural" to everybody. Yes, of course, there will be victims along the way. Whatever.

While "It's Complicated" is heavily researched, it's also heavily dependent upon interviews and often takes teens proclamations at face value. Boyd is also keen to give us interpretations of what teens really mean, and she is heavily biased towards interpreting teen's pronouncements about their social media use as reflecting normative adolescent development. Instead, boyd focuses on how overly-anxious and meddling parents interfere with their teens' normal developmental activities. Take a chill pill, it's all progress, all the time, and it's getting better in every way, every day. Teens are doing what they've always done. Teens have always bullied. Teens have always tried to forge identities and had moments of what she calls "collapsing contexts" where they have to negotiate the quick shift in how they represent themselves to audiences from whom they have different needs and for whom they have different messages.

Teens' mental model of their audience is often inaccurate, but not because teens are naïve or stupid. When people are chatting and sharing photos with friends via social media, it's often hard to remember that viewers who aren't commenting might also be watching. This is not an issue unique to teens, although teens are often chastised for not accounting for adult onlookers. ("It's Complicated," boyd, 33).

"It's Complicated" makes this move over and over again: asserting that this or that behavior is not unique to teens and/or it's not unique to today's teens. It's all old, in a new form or location. This is what my colleague Thomas De Zengotita and others would call the "hurricane is just more breeze" fallacy. Just relax, it's just air, and we've got the research to prove it.

And here's one of the most glaring problems with the work. In the Introduction to "It's Complicated," boyd writes:

"Given the context in which I'm writing and the data on which I'm drawing, most of the discussion is explicitly oriented around American teen culture, although some of my analysis may be relevant in other cultures and contexts. I also take for granted, and rarely seek to challenge, the capitalist logic that underpins American society and the development of social media. [italics mine] Although I believe that these assumptions should be critiqued, this is outside the scope of this project."

Huh?? In my opinion, this is boyd's most glaring, lazy and dangerous error. There is no rational context to understanding the bidirectional effects of digital media use by adolescents without exactly taking into account the "capitalist logic that underpins American society and the development of social media."

One cannot and should not talk about the public sphere without talking about forces of state and market. In "Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere"--a work cited by boyd as central for her conceptualization--Jurgen Habermas was aiming towards a "sociological attempt at clarification" of the meaning of "public," and quoted at length C. Wright Mills's Power Elite and William Whyte's Organization Man. That's telling. For Habermas, the logic of capitalism was not outside the scope of a project that attempted to understand what a non-coercive networked public could and should be. He was keen to find out just how well "liberal notions concerning the public sphere...fit the realities of modern democracies." In order to do that he had to understand the ways that systematic distortions in communication were already being woven into the fabric of already-existing publics.

This isn't the only problem with her analyses. Boyd's opening to a crucial chapter on media literacy in which she stunningly devotes most of the space in that chapter to a very old debate about whether it is good or bad to be a "Digital Native versus Digital Immigrant." She helps us understand how it's a false choice. But this conversation, too, is so 2001 and only Marc Prensky and a few others would like us to still keep it alive. She brings Rushkoff into the fray, here, and he's moved on since 2001. He's talking about capitalism...you know, the stuff that is outside of the scope of boyd's project. Another schism. Why doesn't boyd seem to see that the whole dystopian future versus technological utopian heyday is an useless, old, unhelpful debate. Nicholas Carr ("The Shallows") put this specious distinction to rest in 2006. But as Boyd cites Carr, she does so to dismiss him as a crank and completely gets him wrong, in what can only be described as a lazy reading of a painstakingly argued point that the Internet is neither all "insidious" or "destructive." Carr was attempting to explore categories beyond technological determinism, to get us thinking that technology is neither all good or all bad, but it always changes us, as we change it. It is a question of bi-directional influence. Carr's book, "The Shallows," was a plea for thoughtfulness, research and discussion in the face of this bi-directional influence. It was read by many, including Steven Pinker--not surprisingly summoned up by boyd as an ally, in her two-paragraph trashing of Carr as a technological determinist. That is not what Carr wrote or said and boyd is just wrong. Does it really matter? They're both selling books, right? A healthy debate is good for sales. But let's leave capitalist logic out of this.

Teens are listening intently to the siren song of social networking in a world of skills and tools constituted increasingly by computers and acumen with digital media. There is an ethos built into the Web. And identity formation doesn't just spring forth in adolescence. As with other human capacities and developmental achievements, identity formation is an additive process. Earlier developments help make subsequent developments possible. So, preteens (elementary-age children), according to Erik Erikson, are (hopefully) moving into adolescence having forged a successful relationship with the "world of skills and tools," from the contexts of school and play. The contexts and school and play are contexts in which digital media use is pervasive and ascending.

The ethos built into the world online (and offline) is one inherently tied to the logic of capitalism. For boyd to think (and to say) that this is outside the scope of her project represents a failure of imagination. It also raises questions about just what "It's Complicated" is describing, since it is not evidently describing how the logic of the market, the forces of the state and the processes of identity formation are inexorably linked.

In 2014, the dominant messages in our culture--the lifeworld of the teenager--are populated by a strong set of beliefs that there is only one path that counts to being Successful. These beliefs are fueled by American narrative underpinnings of democracy and capitalism. We're all born equal and we all have the chance to be Successful, that is to say, to be rich or famous or have celebrity good looks. Even teens that don't consciously believe this to be true will often feel guilty, or somehow "wrong," for not being Successful in certain prescribed ways. For example, I talk to teens every day that secretly or not-so-secretly feel pretty bad:

For not being rich.
For not being famous.
For not having a rich, famous, or beautiful mom or dad.
For not having a traditional family.
For being "different."
For not being "different."
For being different than the mainstream and celebrating that, but secretly wishing they weren't all that different.
For feeling like a phony because they are not all that interested, really, in Darfur or diversity or helping the homeless when they know they are supposed to be, and actually want to be, interested in people who are suffering.

This basic idea that there is only one path for being Successful at life is, I believe, a dangerous idea, and I think it's responsible for making millions of teenagers miserable. I'm not some radical arguing that it's bad to be rich or famous. I'm just making the reasonable proposition that no teenager should suffer from clinical depression or want to kill themselves if they aren't Successful in these traditional ways, especially as it becomes more and more difficult to reach those levels and types of success in American life. Is danah boyd's research in It's Complicated telling us that these are no longer or never were problems for American teens...enough so that parents can and should relax?

Just because teens tell us they have plenty of freedom online, are not losing choices and are able to develop a sense of their own "identity" as over against their parents, does not mean that they are okay. We know that many teens are not okay and that the Internet--while it may not "cause" those problems--exacerbates that situation. One wishes danah boyd would have had "psychotherapist" on her already-impressive list of accomplishments. The teens with whom I work--admittedly a subset of the more vulnerable members of our culture--tell different stories than the teens in "It's Complicated." And they (and I) reach different conclusions about whether they're okay or just doing what teens have always done.

We know, or we should know, that the "problem" of what constitutes Freedom is already deeply embedded into the Web and that means it is getting more and more deeply embedded into the identities of our teens each day. I couldn't agree more with Dr. boyd that a parent in a state of neurological calmness is the best kind of parent, able to deliver the best kind of parenting. But "taking a chill pill" regarding the bi-directional effects of digital media is not the best advice that I can think of.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important book by one of today's best scholars of digital culture, February 4, 2014
This review is from: It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (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. I want to get this publication into the hands of every teacher, parent, policy maker and journalist in the country because she is so thoughtful in her analysis and so adept at skewering the most common misunderstandings and anxieties about teen's online lives. Make no mistake about it -- she's on the side of the young people and takes seriously their struggles to carve out a space for socialization, exploration, and learning at a time when their access to physical spaces has diminished beyond tolerance. She tells their stories across the book, often with a real gift for compelling personal narratives, and then helps to situate those stories into a much larger social and historical context.

The focus on history is especially striking throughout the book: she refuses any and all forms of digital exceptionalism. She walks a careful line, recognizing why many have celebrated the emergence of new forms of participatory culture, even as she also cautions against a too nice, too pretty picture of what teens actually do on line. There's not much sentimentality here -- not about teens or about the net culture -- but there's enormous sympathy and quite a welcome dose of calm rationality. One by one, she tackles the big topics and in each case, subjects them to thoughtful analysis: this does not make the problems go away but it also insures that we do not blow them out of proportion as she notes happens often with sensationalistic media get ahold of these topics.

For a book called It's Complicated, she makes her arguments in the most straight forward way possible, even as she remains attentive to the nuances and complexities that scholars love to wallow in. She is familiar with and draws upon the highest quality scholarly research: indeed, she has collaborated with many of the top figures in the field; but she feels no great need to mystify and astound the reader with her arcane knowledge. Instead, she adopts a "just the facts" tone that increases dramatically her authority and credibility. She tells stories that are apt to connect directly to the lived experiences of our current crops of students and she does so in a way that they might actually read and comprehend her core insights.

If I am asked to think of comparable books, I would need to identify writing that has the same scholarly authority and public-facing posture. I suspect the clearest points of comparison might be to John Palfrey and Urs Gasser's Born Digital, Lynn Scofield Clark's The Parent App, Howard Rheingold's Net Smart, or the Digital Youth Project's Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out. Each of these books has made a huge contribution to the public dialogue around these issues, each focusing on a different segment of people who have been concerned by education, learning, and social life amongst teens being raised in a culture so dominated by digital and mobile technologies, yet taken as a whole, these books represent the most sensible and grounded writings to emerge around this topic. She remains attentive to the diversity of youth experiments, drawing on a rich array of exemplars through which to explore her core concerns, and sometimes digging deeper into some of the key stories that get told and retold about digital life, always discovering that there is much more going on here than popular representations might suggest.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I Strongly Disagree., August 3, 2014
This review is from: It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for anyone interested in the social side of technology, February 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Hardcover)
I've been following danah's scholarship for quite some time, and this book does a great job of synthesizing a lot of the research she has been doing in this space for many years. "It's complicated" is both accessible, and grounded on actual peer-reviewed research.

This book will be elucidating to parents, educators, and technology designers, who are interested in getting a nuanced view of the reality danah has encountered in her extensive ethnographic work. Furthermore, the book helps dispel a number of myths about youth's online practices. For example, I particularly I enjoyed the chapter on literacy (chapter 7) as it presents a balanced view on youth's proficiency with technology, which is often misinterpreted in the media.

Lastly, it is important to remember why danah’s insights are so valuable: she has had the unique opportunity to navigate, and deeply understood, the many actors involved in the world of technology and teenagers. One day she’s talking to an inner-city teenager, the next she’s talking to a high-level government official, and the next she’s meeting with the founder of the latest tech start-up.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the one you need to read., February 7, 2014
By 
GB (Boston, MA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Hardcover)
danah boyd is probably one of the most productive, sanest, brilliant, cutting edge, digital social scientists around. She really tries to understand people and in particular the adolescents in context. In an environment in which so many of the books about the impact of technology are grandiloquent and extreme, danah or @zephoria (if you want to follow her in twitter) does a great job at learning about how technology really works in the lives of teenagers, the title is a perfect summary: It's Complicated. For those who like to read about how technology is the solution to all the problems or for those who still are nostalgic about a non-digital work, this book may frustrate you, it is about how in this emerging phenomena, definite conclusions are not easy to pack in a few sentences. Thanks danah for writing a book we can use when researchers, clinicians, and policy makers, struggle with ways of understanding the world of teens and the digital. My admiration.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It Can Be A Nice Place To Visit, But Do You Really Want To Live There?, May 12, 2014
This review is from: It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Dana Boyd works for Microsoft Research. She also turned to the internet in the mid-1990s, as a teenager, because she "felt ostracized and misunderstood at school". She did not specify why, but according to her Wikipedia page, she identifies herself as "queer", so possibly her sexual orientation was the main issue. Both of these matters makes Ms. Boyd more financially and personally beholden to the internet and social media than the average person. Hence, don't expect this book to be objective about the internet or social media.

The first sign that the author is strongly tilting in one direction over the other is her views on parents. She portrays parents of teenagers as being intrusive, overprotective, uninformed, etc. It wouldn't have been surprising if she had eventually come right out and stated: "Parents need to shut up, back off, buy their kids the best cell phones and tablets and laptops they can afford, and never be late paying the internet or phone bills." One can only guess Ms. Boyd's childhood has deeply influenced her decision to still think and talk like a teenager at times, even though she is now in her thirties. One should also note that the author had her first child last year, and, thus, has never been morally or legally responsible for a teenager.

Another sign is the way Ms. Boyd would look at a problem with social media in the present and state it is really no different from something in the past. This viewpoint of hers became downright bizarre in the chapter on bullying. Anyone who is not an absolute idiot knows how social media has drastically changed the world of bullying, and created a whole new world of drama never seen before in the past with teenagers. Her own chapter on the matter even proves it. But what does Ms. Boyd say in the final paragraph in that chapter? She states: "Although new forms of drama find a home through social media, teens' behaviors have not significantly changed. Social media has not radically altered the dynamics of bullying, but it has made these dynamics more visible to more people." She goes on: "Blaming technology or assuming that conflict will disappear if technology usage is minimized is naive."

In Dana Boyd's mind, social media is never to blame for anything bad. People are just looking at it in the wrong way. She spends a great deal of the book trying to tell readers how they should look at the matter of social media. They need to look at it as she looks at it, as she needs to look at it. Her final paragraph in the book is a most revealing one as to how she sees it all. She states: "Networked publics are here to stay. Rather than resisting technology or fearing what might happen if youth embrace social media, adults should help youth develop the skills and perspective to productively navigate the complications brought about by living in networked publics. Collaboratively, adults and youth can help create a networked world that we all want to live in."

Live in? Now, that's the key to if a reader is more likely to agree with Ms. Boyd, or more likely to disagree. If the reader feels teenagers should be spending more time living in an online world, instead of an offline world, then that reader will probably love this book. However, if the reader feels teenagers should not be living in an online world, but need to concentrate all or most of their time and energy living in the offline world, this book is not going to seem like one offering sensible advice on how to raise a teenager.

For those in the latter group, don't expect any discussions in this book about social media device etiquette, such as not using one's cell phone as a means of escaping from present company. Also, don't expect any thoughts about the negative effects of teenagers never spending much time alone with their own thoughts, since they are constantly wired to the thoughts of others. Moreover, don't expect any concerns about teenagers never living for the moment, but always needing to record or report the moment, and always living in a constant state of anticipation of the next text or tweet. Dana Boyd doesn't go there. To her, the networked world is one to live in, not one to visit.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've had the pleasure of meeting danah through mutual friends and she's one of those crazy smart people that would make you feel, August 4, 2014
By 
Kim Pallister (Portland, OR, USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Hardcover)
I've scaled back the book reviews on my blog. Combination of being busy and just being less interested than in the past in doing so. That said, I intend to make a point of adding reviews for books I deem important, and danah boyd's book, It's Complicated, is just such a book.

I've had the pleasure of meeting danah through mutual friends and she's one of those crazy smart people that would make you feel woefully inadequate, were she not so personable and engaging. It's Complicated represents the culmination of over a decade's worth of her research into American teens and how they use technology and social media. It is a groundbreaking, nuanced, thorough look at the topic and it's many facets.

The book opens with a discussion on 'networked publics', the virtual spaces created by online participation, and the ways in which these spaces overlap and collide with each other and the real world networks in which we live. It then goes on to discuss the many ways in which youth today use and participate in these networks as part of their participation in society and as part of their growing into adults.

From the closing passage of the book, boyd summarizes why I think the book is so important:

"Growing up in and being a part of networked publics is complicated. The realities that youth face to not fit neatly into utopian or dystopian frames, nor will eliminating technology solve the problems they encounter. Networked publics are here to stay. Rather than resisting technology or fearing what might happen if youth embrace social media, adults should help youth develop the skills and perspective to productively navigate the complications brought about by living in networked publics."

Ultimately, this is a book about modern teenage life in our society, how it differs from the actual and idealized world of their parents' teenage years, and the role that technology does and doesn't play in that difference. It's also about media literacy and how kids and parents are struggling to make use of, and sense of, a shifting landscape of technology that is reshaping how we view our relationships to one another.

I started reading the book as a technology guy looking to learn more about where things were heading. However, I think the side of me that is a father of three will-be-teens-before-you-know-it kids got the most out of it.

Strongly suggested reading for anyone in tech and anyone with kids.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Openminded look at teens and the internet, seperates societal issues from internet issues, May 29, 2014
By 
Just Me (here and there across the USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I think the most significant thing Boyd has to offer the "issue" of teens and the internet is that we have to be careful of confusing issues that have to do with society with issues stemming from the internet. As a teen she quotes says, "I'm guessing a lot of the drama is still the same, its just the format is a little different." Boyd explains, "Although some teens still congregate at malls and football games, the introduction of social media does alter the landscape. It enables youth to create a cool space without physically transporting themselves anywhere. And because of a variety of social and cultural factors, social media has become an important public space where teens can gather and socialize broadly with peers in an informal way." So, teens primarily turn to internet social networks for the same reason they turn to in person socializing, without the problems of the difficulties of connecting face to face in today's world, where many parents will not allow their children to roam the streets or the mall out of fear for their safety.

The internet does have risks that the mall does not. Boyd lists them as, "persistence: the durability of online expressions and content; visibility: the potential audience who can bear witness; spreadability: the ease with which content can be shared; and searchability: the ability to find content."

Some adults are concerned about internet "addiction", but Boyd points out that "most of those who are "addicted" to their phones or computers are actually focused on staying connected to friends in a culture where getting together in person is highly constrained. ..The ability to access public spaces for sociable purposes is a critical component of the coming of age process, and yet many of the public spaces where adults gather -- bars, clubs, and restaurants -- are inaccessible to teens."

Boyd makes a important point when she writes, "The key to understanding how youth navigate social media is to step away from the headlines -- both good and bad -- and dive into the more nuanced realities of young people." On the dangers of the internet, Boyd helpfully points out that, "Bullying, racism, sexual predation, slut shaming, and other insidious practices that occur online are extraordinarily important to address even if they're not new. Helping young people navigate public life safely should be of significant public concern. But it's critical to recognize that technology does not create these problems, even if it makes them more visible and even if news media relishes using technology as a hook to tell salacious stories about youth."

The real value of this book is summarized by Boyd when she writes, "Contemporary youth are growing up in a cultural setting in which many aspects of their lives will be mediated by technology and many of their experiences and opportunities will be shaped by their engagement with technology. Fear mongering does little to help youth develop the ability to productively engage with this reality. As a society we pay a price for fear mongering and utopian visions that ignore more complex realities. In writing this book, I hope to help the public better understand what young people are doing when they engage with social media and why their attempts to make sense of the world around them should be commended."

Highly recommended to every parent, educator, and anyone else with an interest in this topic.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Are Things Really That Different With Technology?, March 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Hardcover)
All the time we hear talk about “teenagers today just have their face in their phones all the time,” or more kindly talk about them being “digital natives.” But are they really all that different than teenagers from earlier generations? Danah Boyd seems to think not. Her insightful book opens with an observation of teenagers at a high school football game in Nashville, where all the students are using mobile devices at the game, and then putting them away to interact face to face – contrasted with the parents in the stands who are glued to their devices, with no difference if they were there or somewhere else. Basing her book on numerous interviews conducted over the past 5-7 years Boyd comes to a rather startling conclusion – teens want to socialize (no surprise there) and want to do it face to face, but they can’t whether due to highly structured time constraints or parental restrictions on movement and gathering. So they increasingly have turned to social media as an outlet. Falling ahead of the curve, teens use social media to negotiate interpersonal interactions and do so without the prying eyes of parents who understand and use more “mainstream” social media such as Facebook and instead using Twitter, Snapschat and other services. Their postings are often encoded, expressing their feelings for those who understand, knowing that their every utterance is being watched. As Boyd explains, Teens and Social Media are In a Relationship, and “It’s Complicated.” A heart there is an almost love/hate relationship with technology and social media – it’s a chance to interact with others, but it can also be the great boogie man with parents instilling fear in teens, and themselves, with stories of online sexual predators and bullying. But it does not keep the teens from using the Internet; rather it keeps many of them hiding it from their parents. If there is a negative in the book, it is that while the author deals with the issue of technology (which can change week to week), she is relying on interviews that were conducted mainly between 2007 and 2010 – a lifetime in Internet time. While the bulk of the research probably would bear out the same conclusions, many of the stories and references can seem dated, making the reader wonder what might have changed in the intervening years. Despite this lag time, the book is an interesting view into wired teens today and certainly adds to the complicated reality of their world.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks to experience and knowledge, fully recommended if you are parents of teenagers, February 27, 2014
This review is from: It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Hardcover)
`It's Complicated' written by Danah Boyd is the story about the social lives of today teens, well-made book that explains everything you need to know young people usage of social media.

Danah Boyd made her book not just a work that will be an excellent reading for parents, but also a book that can be recommended to all those who work with children or see kids as their target audience to which their services and products are tailored.
It is evident that the author spent a significant amount of time to research the subject she wrote about, so her book can certainly be taken as a reference in this field. On the other hand this fact does not seem to affect the ease with which the book is read, its user-friendliness even for those who are not technologically educated.

Due to her experience and background in social media, Danah Boyd's story about discoveries what our kids are doing, though they should not, and vice versa is very interesting and educational work for readers who deal with children.
What will make young readers satisfied about it is the fact that the author succeeded to refute all kinds of myths that are usually connected with teenagers Internet presence and practices.

Her book is unusual, but she successfully blended technology, psychology and the study of teens, whose compilation, thanks to Boyd's experience and unlimited knowledge, can fully be recommend if you have teenagers in the house.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens
It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd (Hardcover - February 25, 2014)
$25.00 $17.01
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.