So many digital parenting books and articles generate fear and anxiety, and American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers is no exception. The big question is whether or not this book, or any of the others, can inspire parents to get serious, learn about the relationships and issues their children encounter with poorly supervised mobile devices, and then figure out how to guide and, yes, supervise their children.
Journalist Nancy Jo Sales offered us a preview of her book in a 2013 Vanity Fair article, Friends Without Benefits, and now that I’ve read both the book and the article, I’d recommend going for the article. The book definitely offers many more interviews with girls, providing an intensive gaze through the prism of 21st Century adolescent digital life.
After so many years of teaching and parenting, I am beginning to wonder whether there is much that’s new for us to learn. We understand the problem — for girls and boys — and we know that kids are often unsupervised. We also know that this lack of supervision causes even more problems. Thus it seems well past time to address our concerns rather than hearing or reading, oh, so much more about them.
A large number of media outlets reviewed the Sales’ book or interviewed the author, and they provide a more in-depth look at the content. Links to many of these reviews are available at the book’s website,
That a 21st Century digital world problem exists, there is no doubt, but many parents and educators are trying hard to guide young people and adults’ greatest need is to have more information about what to do. Given the heavy presence of social media in teens lives — and in ours — adults have arduous work ahead, but hard work with an aim toward mentoring young people is precisely what we should be doing.
Below are a few past posts that offer ideas and suggestions to help parents come up with strategies to improve the quality of kids’ digital lives.