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American Girls: The Secret Online Lives of Teenagers

Nancy Jo Sales examines how social media and mobile devices disrupt the lives of teenage girls in her new book, “American Girls.”  This review from the New York Times sheds light on disturbing new trends in young, teen girls.  They think it is normal to sext with thirteen year old boys.  Posting a picture in their bra is no big deal.  The pressure to stay popular online is so ardent that teens stay up all night trying to increase likes and follower counts.  This book will open parents’ eyes to why monitoring their children’s online activity is so vital.

“The murder last month of a 13-year-old Virginia girl — who had communicated with one of her suspected killers through Kik, the popular messaging app that offers its users anonymity — has reignited worries about teenagers’ use of social media.”

In her discursive new book, “American Girls,” the journalist Nancy Jo Sales examines the effects that growing up in the turbulent seas of social media are having on American girls. It looks not only at high-profile cases of predatory assault and cyberbullying, but also at how day-to-day life inside an online bubble can narrow one’s view of the world and warp relationships and self-esteem.

She writes about 13-year-old girls being asked for nude photos by male acquaintances, being slut-shamed by classmates, and using a special app to edit photos of their backsides. She writes about 16-year-old girls meeting strangers on Tinder (“By Tinder’s own account, in 2014 more than 7 percent of its users were between the ages of 13 and 17”) and middle schoolers sexting in class.

This book does an unnerving job of depicting the highly sexualized environment teenagers inhabit today on the web and the social anxiety created by spending hours a day online. But “American Girls” is hardly groundbreaking in its revelations. Many of its findings were chronicled more succinctly in Anderson Cooper’s 2015 CNN special “#Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens,” most notably the stress caused by the minute-by-minute monitoring of one’s status and popularity, the bullying and harassment that take place routinely online, and exposure of younger and younger children to overtly sexual content on the web.

American Girls Book Photo by: Sonny Figueroa/The New York Times

Download WebSafety today to monitor your teen’s social media, texting, web browsing and to set time limits on mobile devices.  www.WebSafety.com

Source: Review: ‘American Girls,’ on the Secret Online Lives of Teenagers

By: B. Staples

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