This easygoing advice book sets out to reassure parents who are intimidated, mystified, or just plain clueless about how the digital revolution may be affecting their teenage children. Lyndsay Green, a sociologist and researcher, takes a down-to-earth approach to her subject, relying as much on anecdotal advice and the experience of everyday teens and parents – herself included – as “experts” in the field.
Divided into six sections with broad themes, such as “The Teen Mind,” “The Social Teen,” and “The Teen-Parent Connection,” each chapter sets up a mini-debate between competing values: fun vs. obsession; self-esteem vs. narcissism; global vs. insular; communicating vs. texting. Green’s focus is less on defining what’s right and wrong in cyberspace than finding the magical middle ground in a world that tends to court extremes. Teens may be living in a high-tech world, but Green’s focus is on decidedly old-fashioned notions such as trust, respect, and dialogue.
While she acknowledges that the Internet is full of dangers such as online stalking, cyber-bullying, and exposure to sexuality and violence, Green takes a glass-half-full approach, pointing out that many of the issues confronting teens in the online world are perennial and that the Internet can also be a tool for empowerment. That being said, adults have a responsibility to make their kids aware of certain things, like the fact that the indiscreet photos they post online today may cost them a job in the future, or that bullying and sexual harassment in any form are never tolerable.
In many cases, the “digital revolution” has changed the speed, but not the manner, of teens’ lives: a house party publicized through social media has the potential to get out of hand much faster, for example. The book often digresses from a discussion of technology per se into a more general guide to raising adolescents that often only touches the surface of the many topics it introduces.