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The Social Lives of Networked Teens

by Danah Boyd

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-300-16631-6
Publisher: Yale Univ.

An analysis of the role social media plays in the lives of teens.

"Social media has evolved from being an esoteric jumble of technologies to a set of sites and services that are at the heart of contemporary culture,” writes Microsoft principal researcher Boyd (Media, Culture, and Communications/New York Univ.). “Teens turn to a plethora of popular services to socialize, gossip, share information, and hang out.” They use them to enhance and expand their social interactions with their peers. Cellphones, texting and online sites like Facebook allow teens to share more than the minutiae of their daily lives; they are relatively safe and vital places where they can express their opinions and receive almost instant feedback from a vast network of friends. With street corners, city parks and even shopping malls becoming off limits to teens as places to congregate, the Internet gives adolescents access to their friends, who might live across town or even across the country. Through hundreds of interviews with teens, parents, teachers, librarians and others who work with the young, Boyd's extensive research illuminates the oft-misunderstood world of teens today, where social media is an extension of life, not a place to hide from parents or other authority figures. She examines the unwritten etiquette rules of social networking sites, the safety concerns of parents and teens who worry about cyberbullying and cyberstalking, the fear of an online presence leading to sexual predation and the racial segregation filtering through the Internet. 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. Boyd also provides a list of demographic information about the teens she interviewed, including age, ethnicity, home state and which sites they use.

Comprehensive new research that illuminates why and how social media is important to teens.