Monthly Archives: April 2014

It’s Complicated/the social lives of networked teens by Danah Boyd

Boyd’s research into how teens use social media points out a number of useful facts which run counter to current popular assertions – generally negative ones – about what teens do on the internet, why, and with what consequences.

My only wish is that she had managed to present the information more succinctly, with far less repetition, so that worried parents might actually read the book and then quit driving their kids crazy with their hovering. I think it’s going to be a hard sell to the parents of teens that I know from the library. But I’m glad to have read the book, and, as a result, hope I will do a better job helping teens be more savvy about how they use internet resources such as search engines and Wikipedia and other reference sources. Perhaps that’s the best thing librarians can do — provide teens and their parents with information and programming that helps them make better use of the internet.

Here are some major points the books makes.

Teens are NOT retreating from the world when they send text messages or spend time on Facebook or Twitter or use any other social media. They’re interacting with their friends. They’d use social media less if they had more opportunities to actually be with their friends. But they would still spend part of their time together interacting about content on social media or internet sites like Youtube.

Teens aren’t “addicted” to the internet. They want to spend time with their friends or playing or creating, and the internet makes that possible; for some previous generations, the “addiction” was the telephone or hanging out at the drive-in or mall. Today’s teens don’t have much access to physical spaces where they can interact.

Teens do want privacy, but they don’t define privacy in the same way their parents do. They don’t strive for privacy because they have something to hide; privacy is necessary for personal development. They want to avoid surveillance (p. 56). They want privacy from the adults that are always trying to control every aspect of their lives, including what they think and say, so that they can say what they want to say to their friends.

To teens, adult “snooping” is rude, like barging in on a conversation between strangers on a bus. Teens don’t go out of their way to make minutia private (p. 62). They choose what to keep private and they often go to great lengths to encode messages they don’t want understood by unintended audience members. “Teens assume they are being watched, and so they try to find privacy within public settings rather than in opposition to public-ness” (p. 74).

Social media makes social problems more visible; it doesn’t cause them and it won’t cure them. Parents’ fears about sexual predation via the internet are seriously overblown, largely because of mass media exaggeration. Bullying also was not born online. “There’s no reason to think that digital celibacy will help them (teens) be healthier, happier, and more capable adults” (p. 93) and there’s also no reason to think that online interaction will solve our social problems.

Teens’ knowing how to use various forms of social media doesn’t make them media literate, and a lot of what teachers and other adults are telling them about what they should and shouldn’t trust is not true. For example, they need to know how to evaluate the various entries in Wikipedia (including its history pages and debates and edits) and other reference sources and not simply be told not to use Wikipedia. They need to know how different search engines algorithms work and how they limit the information they find.

I hated being a teenager back in the dark ages of the 1950s and 60s – I often wonder how I survived those years. I know I would NOT have survived the current style of over-protective, hovering, intrusive parenting that gives kids neither the time nor the space to just be kids. There is NOT a stranger who is a kidnapper or sexual predator lurking near every schoolyard or playground, though there may be an abuser or potential abuser living in or often invited into your home – statistically, those are the odds. Hovering, however, is not the answer. Teaching kids about how to protect themselves, is.

Parents who want their kids to spend less time with social media need to lighten up and let them spend more in-person time as free time with their friends.


KWOUT: one more new thing learned this year (two more things?)

i LOVE KWOUT. That is, I do when I can get it to work.

I posted a link to a site with pictures of the most beautiful libraries on the library website at — you can check it out. It worked.

I posted a link to a Youtube video of my favorite little YouTUbe dog, Yorkie Minnie, on my husband’s and my joint Facebook page and I tweeted it, too. The tweet shows the link but no image. Facebook shows the image and my posting about it. Wish the tweet also showed the photo.

Now I’m trying to post this clip from a page of Arabian horse photos here — which I selected because (1) we still have 9 Arabian horses and (2) they are gorgeous and (3) I am eager for good weather so we can start training and riding again and (4) the strutting bay in the center of this photo looks a lot like our JohnJohn. Really. But so far, I only get text to show up. I’m going to leave it as is in this draft and try to figure out what I’m doing wrong. Then I’ll come back and comment on what I’ve found out.

<div class=”kwout” style=”text-align: center;”><a href=”″><img src=”; alt=”; title=”arabian horses pictures – Google Search” width=”324″ height=”234″ style=”border: none;” /></a><p style=”margin-top: 10px; text-align: center;”><a href=”″>arabian horses pictures – Google Search</a> via <a href=””>kwout</a></p></div&gt;

Okay, I’m trying again, this time not as a quick post but inside my WordPress “edit post” screen and in the TEXT view. Here goes:

AHA! That’s the trick. You have to be in TEXT view when you plug in all this text, if you want it to show what it links too instead of just text.

I do love NE Learns 2.0. I’ve re-learned how to experiment. So, here are some more things to gawk at:

The lovely Minnie (quote from the Facebook quote):

Gorgeous libraries (quote from the Val Library website quote):

Will I keep using KWOUT? You bet.I don’t know how attractive or interesting my “shares” will be because of that, but I’ll be sharing more because of it, personally and on the library website. It’s so much easier to use all that cut/paste/save/copy/paste.

Now, Michael, if you would just teach us how to upload the PICTURES in just as easy a way with our tweets, I would be very grateful! (Searching underway…. nope, seems you have to link from a saved pic.)