Book Club – It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

Last week (sorry for the late update) I got together with my fellow Social Media MA students for a book club. It was my first ever book club actually, and I really enjoyed it. The book we discussed was danah boyd’s It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

The first thing I noticed about It’s Complicated is how America differs from the UK. As someone who grew up with MySpace and forums, I could relate to the teenagers in this book. But some of the parents’ viewpoints seemed extreme compared to mine.

Fear seemed to be the main theme for of all parents, so, as we have quite a multicultural group, it was interesting to see how the group’s parents react to social media differently. It seemed that the level of fear depended on culture, class and local media coverage of the area. I definitely think there is more of a fear of social media among American parents.

Every chapter discussed one area of fear, but managed to dismiss it as an overreaction. We all agreed that boyd has a very utopian view of social media, which makes this book very one-sided. But if you look at the wider picture with media’s scaremongering and social media hate campaigns, I think that we need a book to fight for the other side.

Near the end of It’s Complicated she noted, “As computer scientist Vint Cerf has said, “The internet is a reflection of our society and that mirror is going to be reflecting what we see. If we do not like what we see in that mirror the problem is not to fix the mirror, we have to fix society.”” (Vint Cerf quoted in Ward, “What the Net Did Next.”) (boyd, 2014: 212)

I think this is an important point because as new technology develops we blame it for society’s problems. There’s always a new culprit with no solutions. I believe that, used properly, social media can help to fix this.

There are so many other important themes that we looked at in this book that I couldn’t cover them all in one blog post. So I’ll come back to them in later posts.

If you’re interested in social media in any way you should read this book. The chapters are written so you can just pick out and read the ones you want without having to go through the whole thing.

Here’s a free PDF – It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

boyd, d. (2014) It’s complicated: The social lives of Networked teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.


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