It’s Complicated book review

It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked TeensIt’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed danah’s book. Although I was already familiar with most of the research leading into it, I felt like I took away more insights through reflection and connection across the themes and findings. One thing that I was particularly struck by was how eager I feel to recommend the book to others in my life, others who are definitely not academics like myself, and that’s thanks to its well-thought-out structure and editing.

danah has worked hard to write a book that is not just a summary and synthesis of her research but also a resource for a multiple audiences. There is a lot of depth below the surface, but the surface is perfectly accessible. I may be biased, since I’m well-versed in the research and know danah personally, but the book seems to achieve her goal in appealing to a wide audience. And the structure of the book as a resource, which can be referenced by chapter and in many cases by sub-chapter, makes it very handy.

I believe the new takeaways from her research for me were a result of its accessible, resource-like approach. I was coaxed out of my academic shoes and into those of someone who hopes to be a parent in the not too distant future. danah’s central argument is that a lot of youth practices remain the same as previous generations even though they appear different, due to the fact that they take place through new digital media and networked publics. The most important chapter in my opinion, setting stage for this point, is the one on privacy. On page 76, danah writes, “Privacy is valuable because it is critical for personal development. As teenagers are coming of age, they want to feel as though they matter.” This speaks to me on multiple levels: scholar, future parent, and designer of civic technologies for adults and youth.

Lastly, in case it’s not obvious, “it’s complicated” is more than a reference to the nature of the networked teens’ social lives, it represents danah’s approach to the topic and goal: complicate your view of contemporary teen sociality. And she does this with quotes like the one above, wherein she offers advice through insight. Those looking for prescriptions for policy and parenting won’t find it here. Rather, the book is an invitation to improve our understanding and relationships with teens through powerful anecdotes and reflections that challenge our assumptions and current practices. Share widely!

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.