Although I now work as a teacher, the librarian in me is not dead and I am happy to post book reviews as I find interesting books.
Danah Boyd has written the book "It's complicated - the social lives of networked teens" in which she describes young people's usage of social media. It's an interesting and complex world that opens up as you read the book. A lot has happened since I was a teenager, but at the same time everything is pretty much as it has always been in the world of young people.
Boyd's ambition is to describe the teenager's use of social media from their own perspective and she does it brilliantly! We get to come into a world where teens try to create their own identity, where the friends are incredibly important and where different dramas relieve each other.
First of all, Boyd wants to punch holes in the term "digital native". It is an expression sometimes used about the young generation that has grown up with digital tools and social media. She believes that the expression breathes a notion that these youngsters are born with some kind of "superpowers" when it comes to using digital devices - and they are definitely not!
On the contrary, she believes that we need to pay attention to how many young people that aren't able to keep up with the digital world and which problems many teens actually face. She describes it as a "digital divide" that has arisen between those who have access to digital resources and those who do not. When schools increasingly assume that students have the technical knowledge, it risks increasing social inequalities, something that digitalization is otherwise predicted to be able to counteract! Here, schools have a great responsibility to work against inequality and offer the same opportunities for everyone.
One more thing that Boyd contradicts is the idea that social media would increase bullying at school and that they should, therefore, be avoided. She believes that bullying is not increasing through social media at all. She believes that the posts and "attacks" that occur should rather be described as "drama" because they rarely live up to the definition of bullying. Teens write posts that are sometimes cryptic or hidden and their entire social interaction is a complex social game of "likes" and comments, but this only reflects the relationships young people have in real life and they don't change the structures that already exist.
Boyd's recommendation to teachers who want to enter social media is to get a teacher's account on social media and then let students add you as a friend. In this way, you don't get directly involved, but you give the students the opportunity to easily have contact on their terms. It's a great way to reach your students and let them reach you as a teacher. Whether you choose Facebook, Instagram or something else is up to each one.
In conclusion, I think the book was unusually readable and it opened my eyes to how complex the lives of the teens actually are. The book also made me remember my teenage years in a fun and almost embarrassing way. The secrets, the desire to be seen, the intriguing. . . . . .
It feels safe to know that after all there is not that much that has changed after all. Teens will always be teens, I guess. . . .
I am the technician who became a librarian, but who got tired of the quiet and peaceful life at the library and started working as a teacher. I brought with me everything I knew about databases, information retrieval and networks and soon I was an ICT-educator. Today, I work as a teacher at Komvux in Norrköping.
I have always had a nerdy great interest in technology. I can find interest in everything from robots to model railroads or the steel industry of the industrial revolution. Technology should take us forward and prevent us from everything boring. You need to dare to be somewhat lazy and ask yourself if there is no easier way to get something done. The human desire to get away is what has driven the technical development and find time for other things. Like model railroads, for instance!
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