August 26, 2014
Review: It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens
It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
boyd is an ethnographer of teens and technology. She has spent the past decade observing and talking with teens about how they use technology.
Like much of the recent literature on the web, I would characterize the overall takeaway as, "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." Phones and the internet are not changing teenagers into new creatures, who hide themselves away in their rooms, lit only by the screen of their phone and laptop, furtively typing and texting - alone together.
Rather, boyd argues that much of the tech-centricity of the lives of teenagers is a result of a shift in societal norms. Parents no longer allow teens to hang out together; malls and other public places have also started to disallow groups of teens to congregate. boyd claims that teens would prefer to spend time face-to-face with each other - technology is simply the next best alternative in a society that is making that more and more difficult.
I find myself to be something more of a technological determinist than boyd, and I think that teens (and the rest of us) are being molded by our technology, although I agree that this is certainly more subtle than some earlier commentators on the web might have us believe.
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