Post #36: Totally Wired

Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens Are Really Doing Online by Anastasia Goodstein

Post number thirty-six is for Anastasia Goodstein's Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens Are Really Doing Online. This book was required for my Youth Services Librarianship course, and while some of it was dated – the big fad at the time this book was published was MySpace – it still seemed very relevant. I am not going to cut for spoilers because it's not like it had a plot I could ruin, so here are my brief thoughts.

This book was basically written for parents, and was encouraging them to get involved in their teens' "wired" lives. By wired, she's talking about their constant connection to everyone and everything, via cellphones, personal computers in their bedrooms (and oftentimes a personal computer in the form of a smartphone), televisions in their bedrooms, and online journaling sites like Xanga and MySpace, where they can connect with strangers, as well as people they actually know. There was also a lot of talk regarding chat services, like AIM and Y!M.

Interestingly enough, she didn't go on at length about child/sex abusers finding people's online profiles and harming them – in fact, as she pointed out, this is a fairly rare occurrence, and the media has really blown a lot of it out of proportion. This is not to say that it isn't a real threat – it is – it just isn't as prominent as the media would like you to think. Instead she focused on the idea of online bullying, sending "sex" messages, and having to deal with the fallout of getting into arguments over the internet with people who you thought were your friends. There are instances of people using the internet to threaten others (teachers, other students, etc.), and the fallout of some of those situations. She also interspersed interviews with parents of varying tech ideals – some monitored their kids' online activities and others did not – to get a well-rounded picture of the way people manage their children.

I especially liked that she ended it by basically saying that it is the parents' responsibility to keep their kids safe online, and to keep them away from content they don't want them to find. I think that's a lesson many parents could stand to learn nowadays, that's for sure.

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