It´s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

Something I stumbled across the other day was danah boyd’s (yes, without capital letters, that’s how she writes her name) book It´s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. And this book is as fresh as it gets, it was published March 3rd 2014. She is an ethnographer and a researcher, and she has studied how young people use social media as part of their everyday lives. The brilliant part of this is that she in fact has made her book FREE and available as a PDF.

On her website she explains her choice like this:

“I didn’t write this book to make money. I wrote this book to reach as wide of an audience as I possibly could.  This desire to get as many people as engaged as possible drove every decision I made throughout this process. One of the things that drew me to Yale [the publisher] was their willingness to let me put a freely downloadable CC-licensed copy of the book online on the day the book came out. [] I wrote this book so that more people will step back, listen, and appreciate the lives of today’s teenagers. I want to start a conversation so that we can think about the society that we’re creating. I will be forever grateful for anything that you can do to get that message out, especially if you can help me encourage people to calm down and let teenagers have some semblance of freedom. ”

In her book she deals with these issues in particular:

1) Identity – Why do teens seem strange online?

2) Privacy – Why do youth share so publicly?

3) Addiction – What makes teens obsessed with social media?

4) Danger – Are sexual predators lurking everywhere?

5) Bullying – Is social media amplifying meanness and cruelty?

6) Inequality – Can social media resolve social divisions?

7) Literacy – Are today’s youth digital natives?

8) Searching for a public of their own

I know I would like to know more about teens and social media, and hear some possible answers to these questions. I think we all have our perceptions and thoughts on the matter. Perhaps that they spend too much time on Facebook, publish pictures uncritically, and are too caught up on getting «likes»? In that case, I would recommend reading my colleague Lektor Hernesvold´s blog posts about iPhones and attention in the classroom, her talk with her 15 year old niece’s Instagram habits, or my classmate Skolesipil’s post about her talk with there younger sister about social media in the 7th grade.

You can watch danah boyd and hear her speak about her book at the NAIS (National Association for Independent Schools) Annual Conference (2013) here:

I will most definately have a closer look at this book when I get the chance. Perhaps a useful tip for you as well?



3 thoughts on “It´s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

  1. This is definitely – and should be – interesting for anyone who works with children and young adults! I have a tendency of thinking that being young today is similar to what it was like for me and my friends, perhaps because I still do not consider myself to be particularly old, but of course it is not! We didn’t share our everyday lives on instagram, twitter, facebook and who knows what every social medium is called, and we didn’t post pictures of ourselves waiting for the world to «like» us – according with fearing that it would not. Thank you for recommending this book!

  2. Hi Lena,
    I started watching the video and will definitely finish watching it once my little one is in bed tonight. As someone who is so critically towards social media for several reasons and is not a part of this world, it is especially important for me to have some input concerning this topic. And I always like when people who talk about teenagers actually make quite an effort to talk to them. I hope I will find some time soon to read the book.

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