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It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,148 ratings  ·  312 reviews
“boyd’s new book is layered and smart . . . It’s Complicated will update your mind.”—Alissa Quart, New York Times Book Review
“A fascinating, well-researched and (mostly) reassuring look at how today's tech-savvy teenagers are using social media.”—People
“The briefest possible summary? The kids are all right, but society isn’t.”—Andrew Leonard, Salon
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Hardcover, 296 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Yale University Press (first published 2014)
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Ashlei Sickles The book was published in New Haven, New York by Yale University Press.

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Joe Sabado
This is a must-read book for anyone interested in understanding how teens and young adults use social media. Based on years of research and interviews. Dr boyd cuts through the extreme views (dystopian/utopian) and provides a sensible perspective based on her conversations from teens who actually use these applications and not from theories. I like how Dr boyd interweaves the teens interviews, her personal experience and other research.
Kevin Hodgson
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am going to check in here now and then as I read this book by the fabulous researcher, danah boyd. Her extensive research and background in social media and the lives of teenagers should make for an interesting read. As a father, and a teacher, and someone who tries to harness technology for storytelling and writing and composing, I am always intrigued by what kids are doing, or not doing, or doing without thinking of what they are doing. I am hopeful that boyd's work will shed some light for ...more
Gary Anderson
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The ways teens use social media spawn a lot of myths. Here are a few:

• Using social media makes teens vulnerable to bullies and sexual predators.
• Many teens are addicted to technology.
• The “digital native” generation has intuitive expertise in using technology.
• The Internet is an equalizer for disenfranchised social groups.
• Google is a more reliable source of information than Wikipedia.

Using research, interviews, and common sense to tackle these misperceptions, Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated:
Mar 25, 2014 rated it liked it
I wanted more from this book. And I wanted less “teenagers have it tough” analysis. And I say this as someone who thinks that teenagers have it tough.

I found both Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together (which focuses on society as a whole) and Mark Bauerlein’s The Dumbest Generation (which is a more pessimistic but also a more academically-rooted analysis) more thought provoking than It’s Complicated. It’s Complicated reads more as an apologist tract than a meaningful analysis. I agreed with some of Ms.
Dana Boyd works for Microsoft Research. She also turned to the internet in the mid-1990s, as a teenager, because she "felt ostracized and misunderstood at school". She did not specify why, but according to her Wikipedia page, she identifies herself as "queer", so possibly her sexual orientation was the main issue. Both of these matters makes Ms. Boyd more financially and personally beholden to the internet and social media than the average person. Hence, don't expect this book to be objective ab ...more
Sep 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I wasn't expecting much from this book. Published 4 years ago and the interviews of teens are 8-11 years old, hmmmm. I went into it thinking I'd have to put it down for irrelevancy. Boyd apparently had this same concern and in her introduction states several times that although the specific apps/websites and cultural references she uses (Miley, Justin, etc) will change, the concepts and ideas she will be discussing remain pertinent. That was a good point to remember.

She divides her book into sev
Nelson Zagalo
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
O livro de Danah Boyd, "It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens", teve grande impacto quando saiu. Na altura marquei-o para ler, mas fui adiando porque do que fui lendo, dizia pouco que me surpreende-se. Agora que o li, e continuando a dizer que não traz nada novo, se visto como livro de divulgação de ciência, acho que traz algo novo, mas mais importante que isso, algo imensamente relevante para a sociedade geral. O discurso sobre as tecnologias e os adolescentes nos media e numa g ...more
Aaron Maurer
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Coming from a background where I am a huge advocate of student voice and working with students to help them establish a positive digital footprint on social media, I just had to read this book from Danah Boyd. This book was a must read for me to learn more about teens and the implications of social media. I come from the standpoint that social media is here to say no matter what you think about it. The apps and tools will change as things evolve, but the premise of having an online network of fr ...more
Tim Pollock
Mar 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
What a letdown. What a major, raging letdown this book was.

Published in 2014 by the too-cool-for-capital-letters "danah boyd," this book hammers away at Facebook while making barely any mention of Twitter. Instagram appears a handful of times. Snapchat is not mentioned once. I don't even recall a Tumblr reference. There is even an entire section called "Facebook vs. MySpace." It's 2014, people.

The major premise that I think is simply irresponsible is this notion that parents need to allow "priva
Luke Meehan
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Really excellent research, sadly ruined by the artificial requirements of academic sociology. Boyd knows her field and has gathered a wonderful wealth of qualitative data. Her conclusions are tight and important. But modern sociology requires any work have an anti-capitalist and cultural-equivalence slant, and only be expressed in stupidly verbose, meandering terms. Boyd wanted this book to be a handbook for parents and policymakers. It should have been. Instead, it is very close to being just a ...more
Alanna King
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Throughout danah boyd’s “It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens”, I’m very satisfied with the level of sophistication of boyd’s research and unbiased point of view in her writing. Her tone is academic, professional and at the same time, approachable. The three areas that most concerned me during my reading are boyd’s research on the digital divide, online teen behaviour of sexual exploration and her plea for the redefinition of crimes associated with online bullying.

I’ve been inc
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kid-raising
You know all those media tropes about teeneagers and the internet or teenagers and social media or teenagers and electronic devices?

Don't believe them.

Yes, the internet is changing the world. However, it isn't really changing kids.

Kids are not magically "digital natives" who know all this stuff by instinct. They learn just like everyone else. Kids aren't becoming separated from the real world or becoming internet addicts. They are using social media to talk and hang out with friends same as my g
Logan Hughes
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book because it's frequently referenced in Gretchen McCulloch's excellent Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language. While Because Internet is more specifically up my alley (being about the way language is used online), danah boyd's sociological approach to discussing teen sociality on the Internet is also extremely interesting. Each chapter in the book examines an element of popular received wisdom about teens on the Internet - they're addicted to their phones, they' ...more
Jul 05, 2020 added it
I read this for school.

The one good thing this book does is in essence says:

Most kids are going on the internet to socialize, not to be lazy or just play video games all day.

Aside from that, as this book states that it might be, it is out of date and irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. It mentions MySpace and Runescape and other non-relevant sites to the current time.

One thing that bothered me: This book devoted an ENTIRE chapter to bullying, then describes the Star Wars Kid as overweight. To
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2014
This was a really interesting read -- for the AISL book discussion in Dallas next week -- that presented a good perspective on teens and the use of social media. It can be really easy to feel discouraged and hopeless about the state of today's teenagers when I see some of the things they feel appropriate to do/share/say on social media, but Danah Boyd puts it in perspective for me. While at times I felt like perhaps she gave teens *too* much credit for their reasons behind the things they do, in ...more
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
danah boyd spent 10 years researching teen use of social media and has written a great book diving into themes and patterns. Similar to Sherry Turkle, boyd looked past the specifics of what teens were doing and focused on generalities and patterns of use across all social media.

As a teacher and parent, it was helpful to think through what developmental hurdles teenagers are tackling with social media as the outlet. I reflected on my teaching habits and how I model appropriate, safe, and purposef
Jan 10, 2020 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Richard by: Gretchen McCulloch
Gretchen McCulloch was interviewed by Ezra Klein in his podcast episode Because Podcast and recommended this book (and two others). ...more
Jun 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Highly recommended read for the parents and well-wishers of the "social media" generation. Littered with insights about social media and what it means to the teen culture. Questioning many prevalent assumptions about the teen culture, and technology. ...more
Plamen Miltenoff
Oct 10, 2018 marked it as to-read
Did Media Literacy Backfire?

Jan 5, 2017danah boyd

Understanding what sources to trust is a basic tenet of media literacy education.

Think about how this might play out in communities where the “liberal media” is viewed with disdain as an untrustworthy source of information…or in those where science is seen as contradicting the knowledge of religious people…or where degrees are viewed as a weapon of the elite to justify oppression of working people. Needless
Wesley Fryer
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
danah boyd's book, "It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens," should be required reading for every parent and educator today. Living as we do in a media-saturated society, many adults are prone to believe the hype and buy the overly-simplistic portrayal by mainstream media outlets of how technology is to blame for many ills which beset both teens and our society as a whole. dana has spent years interviewing hundreds of teens around the United States about their uses of social media ...more
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book provides an interesting counterpoint to Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, which emphasises the problematic aspects of technology. 'It’s Complicated', by contrast, seeks to reassure the reader that today’s American teenagers are not being ruined by the internet and smartphones. I found myself agreeing with both books to some extent, as they are really pursuing different points. Turkle focuses more on the elderly than youth and doesn’t engage wi ...more
Jj Kwashnak
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
All the time we hear talk about “teenagers today just have their face in their phones all the time,” or more kindly talk about them being “digital natives.” But are they really all that different than teenagers from earlier generations? Danah Boyd seems to think not. Her insightful book opens with an observation of teenagers at a high school football game in Nashville, where all the students are using mobile devices at the game, and then putting them away to interact face to face – contrasted wi ...more
David Rickert
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a book every teacher and parent should read, not because you'll agree with everything that Boyd writes but because she questions some widely held assumptions about teens' use of technology. Her basic premise is that teens are "addicted" to social media because parents have created a sheltered environment governed by fear in which teens don't have anywhere else to go but online to create a private environment to socialize. My favorite story is one where a mom had a group of her daughter's ...more
May 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, non-fiction
It’s complicated… or maybe not. This book provides cosy reassurance that teenagers are the same as they have always been and that the internet merely provides them with different ways to connect and communicate. The author dissects teenage online behaviour through a mixture of qualitative research and statistics that generally works well. Personal anecdotes make for an engaging read, but are supported by enough quantitative evidence to make the arguments convincing. Ironically, the first chapter ...more
Jul 29, 2014 rated it liked it
It's Complicated is the result of a ten-year study investigating the effects social media has on our nation's teenagers. danah boyd traveled all around the country interviewing teens and parents. What she found may surprise some. Many of the fears and assumptions held by adults tend to be misguided and/or hyperbolic. The ways in which teens use the technology varies from teen to teen, but much of their use is consistent with the psychological and social needs presented by physical interactions w ...more
Erin Scott
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I had the opportunity to hear danah speak at the Stanford Law School, which was sort of a (very) condensed version of this book. I enjoyed her observations and being able to dive deeper into the ideas. Major takeaways: adults, stop being afraid of technology, and don't expect it to be a magic fix to cure our social ills. There's work to be done to fix issues of racial, class and financial inequality, as these issues are endemic of our society and require work. And stop yelling at your kids to ge ...more
Oliver Brackenbury
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
What could easily have been another over-inflated thinkpiece of a book is most definitely NOT. I very much enjoyed reading "It's Complicated" and was pleased to not only learn many new things, but also to be reminded of some very useful information about how any of us interacts with online social spaces. The ending felt a little rushed; I would have like to know more about "a networked world that we all want to live in" built by adults and youth collaborating. The value of all the ignorance a bo ...more
Anyone who works with teens or thinks about teen culture needs to read this book. It's a great look at how teens connect online and why they're connecting online -- the why of simply WHY and the why of why that matters. ...more
Christine Sitter
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The most relevant, enlightening book I've read regarding teenagers and technology all year. It's got great perspective, engaging, useful information without taking sides or offering the only way to "cure" the situation.

Kudos, Ms. Boyd. And thank you.
Kayla Devlieg
Jun 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
Just, no. I see her points and her research is valid, but I do not see anything positive or reassuring about teens being dependent on their technology and social media. Teenagers and teenagers, but throwing social media into the equation makes things different than what they have been in the past.
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Dr. Danah Boyd is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Her research examines the intersection of technology, society, and youth culture. Currently, she's focused on research questions related to 'big data', privacy and publicity, youth ...more

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34 likes · 5 comments
“In 1995, psychiatrist Ivan Goldberg coined the term internet addiction disorder. He wrote a satirical essay about “people abandoning their family obligations to sit gazing into their computer monitor as they surfed the Internet.” Intending to parody society’s obsession with pathologizing everyday behaviors, he inadvertently advanced the idea. Goldberg responded critically when academics began discussing internet addiction as a legitimate disorder: “I don’t think Internet addiction disorder exists any more than tennis addictive disorder, bingo addictive disorder, and TV addictive disorder exist. People can overdo anything. To call it a disorder is an error.” 3 likes
“Teen "addiction" to social media is a new extension of typical human engagement. Their use of social media as their primary site of sociality is most often a byproduct of cultural dynamics that have nothing to do with technology, including parental restrictions and highly scheduled lives. Teens turn to, and are obsessed with whichever environment allows them to connect to friends. most teens aren't addicted to social media; if anything, they're addicted to each other.” 3 likes
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