totally wired: what teens and tweens are really doing online

totallywired.jpgtotally wired: what teens and tweens are really doing online, by anastasia goodstein.

I had a great sense of anticipation before reading this book. Maybe too much. It’s a good book, and truly worthwhile reading for all parents of teens and preteens, as well as for youth workers.

It’s substantially more basic than I expected it to be. That’s not necessarily bad. I just didn’t realize it was going to be written for a reader who knows so little and has so little experience with the online practices and problems of teenagers.

In the ys book “good sex”, jim hancock writes, in the introduction, that youth workers have one of two tendancies, both not helpful, when it comes to talking about sex with teenagers. Jim says they either talk about sex as if sex is everything, or they talk about sex as if sex is nothing. Neither of these, he’s goes on to say, is either true or helpful.

Anastasia Goodstein (and I hesitate to even write this, because for some reason, I feel this compulsion to want her to “like” me, even though we’ve never met and quite possibly never will) falls to the “technology is everything” side of the equation, in a way-more-hip, intelligent and insightful version of kip’s famous wedding song from the bonus DVD ending of napoleon dynamite. This is understandable, in a sense: teens and technology is what Anastasia does, what she thinks about, what she writes about, what she loves. It would be fair to say I have many “x is everything” proclivities also. So I don’t fault her or the book for this; but I did notice it. It shows up particularly in the broad brushstroke implications that all kids are as wired as the exceptionally wired teenagers she highlights.

I’m no ludite. I’m not anti-technology – not in the least. and i DO think youth workers and parents should read this book, especially if they’re a bit clueless about how the world of teenagers has changed. OH — actually, this is a bone i have to pick with the book: the beginning of the book makes that (soft) contention that being a teenager is the same as it always was; and then the author goes on to say (or imply — i don’t have the book in front of me) that the only thing that has changed is technology (“Yes I love technology. But not as much as you, you see. But I still love technology. Always and forever.“). pishaw, i say. SO much has changed: technology is a huge part of that — no disagreement there. but many of the changes in adolescence are physiological (the dropping average age in the onset of puberty has radically shifted the norms of adolescence, and of what it means to be a pre-teen), familial (the current generation of parents are the most involved in the lives of their kids ever), glocal rather than national (global and local in a mashup that ignores, even disdains, national), and many others (some of which have overlap with technology, or implications from or toward technology).

ok. this is the rambliest book review ever. bottom line: if you are a parent or youth worker who hasn’t done reading on this subject, or has questions about how your teenager, or the kids in your youth group, are having their lives impacted by the almost constant presence of the digital world, you absolutely must read this book. oh, and the author’s blog, ypulse, is must-reading for all youth workers. put it in your bloglines.

2 thoughts on “totally wired: what teens and tweens are really doing online”

  1. Hi Mark. Thanks for your honest review. I did write the book primarily for parents, many of whom are really struggling to understand the changes taking place, so “basic and accessible” was my goal. My hope was to demystify the technology teens are using and encourage parents to set limits, get involved, etc. And yes, my teens are still teens approach (while I agree there have been other cultural, societal and even physiological changes) was meant to put teens’ motivations for using and loving this technology in perspective. So many parents tell me they just don’t understand why they spend hours IMing or on MySpace since it’s something they would never do.

    It’s refreshing to read a real review with your take on the book’s strengths and weaknesses. I appreciate it…and still like you even though we’ve never met!

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