Teens on Devices: 5 Myths About Social Media

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Are you fighting to get your Teen off of the Devices this Summer? Read on: It's not all bad..
 
5 MYTHS ABOUT YOUNG PEOPLE AND SOCIAL MEDIA. A new book exposes widely held beliefs about new technology.
 
Teenagers have always been attracted to public spaces where they can hang out, find new friends, and talk endlessly with peers about matters that concern them, away from parents and other authority figures. Such gatherings are crucial to human development; they are how teenagers expand their social horizons, share views on issues that matter to them, experiment with different versions of their personalities, and develop the sense of independence from parents and other adults that they must nurture in order to become adults themselves.
 
Until rather recently, the places where teens would find one another were physical, geographical spaces, but today they are more often located in cyberspace. Many adults are puzzled, and some are appalled, by the amount of time teens spend online and by what they seem to do there. A terrific new book by danah boyd (who spells her name without capitals) entitled It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens helps us make sense of it.
 
The book, published by Yale University Press, is the product of an extensive program of research. From 2005 to 2012, boyd traveled back and forth across the United States meeting with and talking with teenagers, and also with parents, teachers, librarians, youth ministers, and others who work with teens. She also spent “countless hours” studying teens through the traces they left online, on their social network sites, blogs, and other social media. In addition, she and her collaborator, Alice Marwick, conducted formal, semi-structured interviews of 166 teens about their social media habits.
 
As the title of her book suggests, the results of boyd’s study can’t be summarized with a few simple statements. The book debunks some of the simplistic myths about teens and technology that we often find in the popular media or hear in conversations among adults. Here are FIVE OF THOSE MYTHS and some of what boyd has to tell us that is relevant to each:
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