This is a nonfiction book meant for teenagers to learn the many dangers of life on the internet and social medias. However, as a teenager myself, I found this book to be only minimally helpful and full of religious messages that are hardly advertised or obvious until you start reading. This isn’t the type of book that I personally enjoy, but you can read the full review to find out why and if you might find it interesting or helpful.
I would give this book two stars out of five. This isn’t so much of a review but more of a complaint, I picked up this book from the library because despite growing up in the digital age and using at least a few forms of social media since I was like five I wanted to know what information was being put out there to help us use the internet and social media. At the end of the day teenagers are still very young and we don’t always make the best decision, we’re still immature and learning. I wanted to see what advice this book would give teenagers like me, because I try to be as safe as possible online but I know plenty of people who post about five times a day everyday and share everything on social media, so I thought this could be helpful. But I found it to be the opposite of that and in fact I actually found it sort of offensive, so let’s take a look at why this book is not the ideal guide it labels itself to be.
Tip#1-Love the one you’re with; Discovering the secret of “social” in a social media world.
This is about how using social media and digital methods of communication and worsening our skills at socializing in person. I personally don’t agree with a lot of the things said, but then again I’m a teenager so take this as you will. First of all, I know that this is supposedly based on lots of studies, research, facts and good stuff like that. However, I think that this also is presenting a lot of opinions like they’re facts. Can we really be hundred percent sure that using social media is the reason someone is awkward and quiet in person? Maybe that’s just their personality, maybe they’re an introvert and social media gives them a place where they can be more social than they can in person or maybe they have anxiety and they’re awkward because in person social interaction makes them uncomfortable. In my opinion it’s unfair to make that type of assumption. Other things I disagree with are how this completely invalidates online friendships and the connection you can have with someone through a screen, how it quotes the bible and refers back to religion when it clearly was not relevant unless you are an extremely religious person and the general superior tone throughout this section.
Tip#2-Peek at your privacy settings; Do you know who’s peeking at you?
This section talks about the dangers of using social media and being online without being socially aware of the potential dangers. My main problem with this is that it starts out with a story about someone dying in a car accident because they weren’t wearing a seatbelt and uses fear tactics to get teenagers to turn on their privacy settings throughout the entire section. If instead of using things like bringing up the possibility of a pedophile seeing your pictures (to scare readers), maybe they included more real statistics and information about pedophiles online than people would be more inclined to use privacy settings for the right reasons. If you tell a kid that adults can see their posts in a sexual way on the internet and talk about a stalker who used social media without any more information then it’s not educational, it’s fear inducing. I honestly think this topic should’ve been covered with a different approach, it’s very important to talk about this but you have to actually educate the people reading instead of only scaring them into doing what you suggest (otherwise they literally don’t have the information and knowledge they need).
Tip#3-Nothing you post is temporary; Ever wish you could “unpost” something.
I agree with the overall message of this post, everything you post and share online does not go away and can follow and impact you for the rest of your life. However, I disagree with how the author once again used bible verse and stories to prove their point because it doesn’t even leave any room for anyone who isn’t Christian or Catholic or religious and it just basically states that the author’s beliefs are right. Also he suggests that in order to avoid embarrassing things posted or recorded we should not just be aware of who’s filming us doing what but also avoid doing anything that could be perceived as bad. So no drinking, smoking, wearing revealing clothing, etc. And I have a few comments about that, I think it’s unreasonable to justify asking someone to live their life a certain way just because if they don’t there’s a chance someone will film them and post it, especially when that’s not even enough. I’m doing exactly what the author does in this book when I say, Have you heard of hotels and Airbnb’s having hidden cameras? There have been multiple cases of people being recorded in their own rooms unknowingly, so we’re never really safe are we? In my opinion as a teenager, you should definitely monitor what you post/share, if you’re in your friend’s posts or not, what you comment, caption, tweet, etc, how much information your profile gives away and how much time you spend online. But you 100% should not change your entire life just because social media is the way that it is (even if adults told you to).
Tip #4 The whole picture of those pictures; A deeper look at the effects of porn.
I wanted to read this section because I thought it would be about the physiological affects of oversexualization and pornography has on teens. But instead it was very religious which I found very surprising. I think this is terrible, not that people are religious or believe abstinence or sex after marriage that is all fine believe whatever you want to believe. But this book is not marketed as religious at all. I had no idea there would be any mention of it until I read it and I was extremely confused. Sure if you’re Christian or Catholic or of any other faith too you probably don’t want your teenagers to develop and porn addiction and be unholy. But you also can’t just say, “Avoid any slightly sexual content online,” in this day and age that is nearly impossible and I should know, I’m literally the target demographic for this book.
Here’s what I think is a valid question; If lust or temptation is a sin or so very wrong and immoral then why do we get them? If we’re god’s children and he loves all of us then why give us flaws, like sexual desire before we’re married? I might hate this even more so because I am an atheist but I think it’s completely inappropriate to go from talking about statistics one second and quoting a bible verse on the next page without any warning. I also think that it’s important people my age aren’t taught that everything sexual is a sin, otherwise they’ll grow up thinking they’ll go to hell for watching porn or having bad thoughts and then suddenly they’re an adult and they get married and they have no idea what to do now.
Tip#5-Don’t do this alone; Seeking a mentor.
This is about finding an older person to help guide you. My only issue with it is that again it doesn’t even consider that some people might not be religious or have similar faith to them (i.e not believing in God or believing in different Gods), and that is insists your mentor has to be the same gender as you (and only mentions men and women and no other genders).
Tip#6-Unmask;The myth of anonymity.
This is about the effects of anonymity and how most of the time online we aren’t anonymous at all. My only problem with this was the same religious complaints I’ve been making throughout, because the bible and Jesus or God are brought up in every section (for some reason).
Tip#7-Yes, still don’t talk to strangers; /do you really know who you’re hanging out with?
This is about how to stay safe online and avoid predators. My main comment is that there was a bit of a double standard regarding gender. There were many examples of girls who were killed or hurt by online predators and only one for guys, when teens were asked specifically the author says girls just shouldn’t be with a guy who asks for pictures but with the guys he assumed they’d like corresponding inappropriately with people through social media. Notice how there was no mention of enjoyment or pleasure when talking about girls but when talking about guys it was implied they’d like it? Yeah, I’m not a big fan of that.
Tip#8-Take more “selflessies”; recognizing when selfies become too “selfy”.
I sort of disagree with the author’s take on this topic, again this could be because I’m a teenager but I honestly think this should’ve focused more on the effects of social media on teens. Do you know much of the average teenage girl’s self esteem is based off her social media? It’s insane, and that’s coming from someone who’s living it in the moment. I have social media, all my friends have social media, and it’s constant. The main points addressed in this section were fine overall but the only problem with selfies isn’t that they make us self absorbed, I’m pretty sure it’s that they make us evaluate ourselves on how we look. Using social media it’s easy to compare yourself and your selfies to others and realize you aren’t pretty or skinny enough, this can be a huge contributing factor to things like low self esteem/confidence, eating disorders and bad mental health. I think that is way more important than just being self aware and making sure you aren’t obsessed with yourself or posting too many selfies.
Tip#9-Like me! Uncovering your true identity.
Okay, so I spoke too soon about not covering the emotional effects of social media on teens because that’s what this section is about. Overall I agreed with most of the things that were said but there were some points where I just really disliked the way the author phrased things, he used examples of other people who didn’t equate their value to the amount of likes they get and to me it felt like he was sort of implying it’s the teenager’s fault. Social media is very complicated for teenagers, it’s not just the amount of likes, followers and comments it’s everything. It’s who comments on who’s posts, it’s the scandal of who you tag and who you don’t, people literally lose friendships over social media and I’ve seen people cut others out of their life simply by blocking them. It’s extremely complicated and this only talks about one aspect of it, the likes and how teenagers somehow think how many likes they get is equal to how valuable they are. I will say this isn’t how all teenagers feel but it is a big percentage, I wish in this book the author mentioned that things like this don’t always affect everyone because it comes off like if you post on Instagram you will immediately become insecure and addicted to likes.
Tip#10-Know the app before you snap; Exploring the intricacies of Snapchat.
As you might’ve guessed, this is all about Snapchat. I actually found it slightly educational, because I didn’t know some of the things said about Snapchat while it is an app I use. It is common for everyone (at least in my friend group) to think Snapchat is way safer than just texting because everything disappears. It’s naïve to think this is true though, especially in this day and age where companies can lie to customers anytime they want and get away with it. I think it’s not bad to use Snapchat although that is a personal choice, however I would highly recommend not using Snap Maps and have your location turned off (even though it means you can’t use certain filters) and don’t add anyone that you don’t know-I’ve done that in the past and it’s not always bad, it could just be a friend of a friend, but it can also be a total stranger so be careful!
Tip#11-Reevaluate your screen time; Trimming hours.
As a teenager and proud member of Gen Z I can say I felt kind of called out by this section, I’ll admit my daily average amount of screen time is higher than the average teen and that’s spread across multiple devices. I do agree that cutting down screen time would be a good and healthy choice, but I don’t think increased screen time is the only contributing factor to obesity rates on the rise or similar problems. I literally can not have just a few hours of screen time a day because I need to use the internet for schoolwork as do most other teenagers. Recreational use of the internet and social media is often what teenagers do during breaks or to relax, and even though I understand the amount of hours can be concerning and should be reduced, as a teenager it often feels like adults are only criticizing how we live our lives.
Tip#12-Frequent tech-free zones; Looking for space.
This section is about taking “media-fasts” meaning no media of any kind for an extended period of time, a day, week or month. In my opinion (again, again as a teenager) this is irresponsible. As of 2020, most news and important information is found online. If you took a day away from media you might’ve missed the self isolation order and went out during the pandemic, you could miss the extreme weather alert and be outside in a thunderstorm, there are many reasons why this is just impractical. I understand more minor media fast, like not using any social media or no YouTube or Netflix/streaming services, that’s reasonable (especially if it’s only for a day). But if we put down our phones all together we could miss something important and be uninformed.
Tip#13-Friend Mom or Dad; Connecting with people who matter.
The main message of this section is that you should add, friend or follow your parents or guardians on social media. Yet again as teen I disagree, I think it isn’t a bad thing to follow your parents or let them follow you but I can say it really limits your social media experience. If your parents can see everything you post then you might not want to post something even if it’s important or meaningful to you because it could be embarrassing or they wouldn’t approve. For example, say you wanted to post something about LGBTQ+ pride and acceptance but didn’t want to deal with that awkward conversion, you wouldn’t be able to if your parents could see everything you liked, posted, commented on or were tagged in. I know in an ideal child-parent relationship that wouldn’t be a problem but realistically I think the main reason kids don’t let their parents follow them is because it’s embarrassing.
Tip#14-Dissect your entertainment media; Rethinking the music, TV, and videos you watch.
You should never say that every single woman or man started dressing a different way because of one piece of media. Go ahead and talk about how it changed beauty standards and norms all you want but do not state that every single person as a certain gender bought a specific product (the author didn’t even specify if that was only in the US or worldwide, please remember other countries do exist). I hate that the author felt it was okay to say “practically every young woman” or “this movie changed your mother’s wardrobe.” This section actually made me think “wtf am I reading?” multiple times.
A lot of this section was spent trying to convince the reader that media influences us, and umm I hate to break it to you but that’s like the entire point of media and anyone with a brain should know that. Specifically it focuses on music and how it can sexualize people. People who listen to music with sexual lyrics, imagery, etc are more likely to partake in sexual activity, which makes a lot of sense. Sexualization in media is often something we can’t avoid, like when young female stars are dressed in revealing clothing and people are free to obsess over their bodies.
The very first time in this entire book that the author acknowledges that some people do not believe in God/are Christian is on page 136 out of 183 informative pages. This section on entertainment media is so heavy on religious views, beliefs and sources it’s a bit frustrating. I don’t really like how critical the author was of popular music and media but I do not have the same beliefs as him so it’s slightly harder to be objective.
Tip#15-Pause; Remembering to think before you post.
This section uses a lot of examples of young teenagers who posted threats online and got criminal repercussions for their actions. The problem is that now (in 2020) honestly even if you threaten to shoot up a school I doubt you’d see the same consequences because there’s so many people who threaten to kill others on the internet everyday. (Also a piece of advice if you want to threaten someone/something online do not pick a school, people take that seriously). Anyways, this section was okay and it’s overall message to think before you post is good as well.
Tip#16-Crush criticism and cruelly; discovering the power of kind words.
This section just talks about how kind words and actions can make a huge difference in people’s lives, especially through social media. Overall it was good and I’m starting to understand that to people who are very religious things might have to relate to bible verse or God to be important, so I don’t mind the constant bible/Christian references as much now.
Tip# 17-Recognize the distraction; texting, driving … and killing. This is another simple section just about not using your phone or being distracted while driving.
Tip#18-I see London, I see France; Why are you showing your underpants?
This section is mainly about nude pictures and why you shouldn’t send them. It wasn’t terrible but I wish the author didn’t present his belief in sex after marriage as like a legit rule for everyone, not just Christians or people who choose to wait until marriage.
Tip#19-No secrets; The implications of “Finsta”.
This section was about honesty and trust. It was pretty short and uninteresting. I found it a bit confusing that at multiple times in this book it’s stated that people feel less accountability if they don’t have their name or identity linked to their account or on that platform. But even in the section on privacy teens weren’t encouraged to use anonymous names, while I have been told many times not to reveal my name on the internet because that gives away part of who I am. It’s interesting that this wasn’t suggested here.
Tip#20-Sleep Matters; Saying “nighty night” to distractions.
This is all about sleep and how it is affected by social media and phones. Teens using their phones and losing sleep also negatively impacts their grades, that much is true. However, there are so many aspects that contribute to students’ lack of sleep besides their phones. Things like homework, extra curriculars, chores and other tasks mean teenagers don’t have as much free time outside of school so we stay up later to get everything done and still have some down time for ourselves (which could be social media). Teenagers are very busy, we have school, homework, many other activities and our entire online and social lives to keep up. I’m just saying that social media isn’t the only reason in society that teenagers are losing sleep, there are many reasons and I think this section was a bit misleading.
Tip#21-Look up; Staying aware of your surroundings.
This is an important message to be aware of everything outside of your phone, people have been so entranced by their phones that they haven’t noticed important things and have literally died or been seriously injured. This section details specific cases and people’s stories of distraction turned deadly. Teenagers do need to learn this lesson as it is something they do and will experience so I’m glad this was included although I don’t like how everything was presented to the reader.
Overall I disliked this book, when I picked it out I thought I was signing up for an educational book about social media and technology but in reality this only told me a few things I didn’t really know and the main thing it accomplished was making me mad. This book is not marketed as Christian or religious at all, if I was paying lots of close attention I might’ve noticed some details to indicate a religious author but I never would have foreseen how much this book talked about God, the bible and Christian faith. I never would have read this book at all if I’d known going into it, because I’m not religious at all and didn’t appreciate his beliefs being stated as facts or rules that every has to follow. Many teenagers are not Christian and will do things out of faith/unholy like have sex before marriage. I think this book was just very blind to that and it only ever mentioned the possibility that a reader wasn’t Christian once out of the entire book, when it was brought up in every single section. I also really disliked how throughout this book the author focused on individual and personal stories. I found this frustrated because it was only one example and it sort of made a generalization. For example, some of them felt like “if my kid liked this then yours should too!” even though everyone is different and different things work for different people and families. I do not recommend this book at all to anyone who isn’t full on Christian because I think anyone who isn’t extremely religious would have a problem with the way information is presented.