Interesting Perspective - Blame Parents For Kids' Obsession With Texting And Social Media

1/7/2014 12:00:00 AM
Photo via Pamela Neder on Flickr

I've spent the last few week's reading Clive Thompson's book, Smarter Than You Think, which dispels many of the notions of those who feel that technology is doing irreparable harm to our children and our society. In fact, I wrote a short post with some initial impressions last Friday. Interestingly enough, I also came across an article by Thompson this week (h/t to Lyn Hilt) which gave an interesting perspective on the role society has played in creating the world in which our children are so easily drawn to their devices.

Thompson's article from Wired  cites the work of Danah Boyd, who has spent thousands of hours interviewing teens regarding their online habits, and has written a new book called It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.  Thompson cites the following:
"...teenagers would love to socialize face-to-face with their friends. But adult society won’t let them. “Teens aren’t addicted to social media. They’re addicted to each other,” Boyd says. “They’re not allowed to hang out the way you and I did, so they’ve moved it online.”'
Thompson also cites research done by Pew which has found that students who text the the most are also those who socialize the most.

The bottom line here is that, we need to be careful of jumping to conclusions about the activities are kids are taking part in online and categorizing them too quickly as antisocial and/or useless.  I am reminded of another optimistic excerpt on the online behavior of our children from Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus:
"Although some of what kids are doing may look trivial and frivolous, what they are doing is building the capacity to connect, to communicate, and ultimately, to mobilize."
Related articles  A Great Conversation On The Technology Concerns Of Parents Regarding 1:1 (

cross-posted at

Patrick Larkin is the Assistant Superintendent for Learning of Burlington Public Schools in Burlington, MA and the former principal of Burlington High. He blogs about education at
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