In her book, It’s Complicated, danah boyd attempts to provide an alternative narrative to the ideas of internet addiction in teens and young adults. Rather than being an addiction to the technology itself, it is another, more modern method of keeping in touch with friends. The reason that youths are often on social media is because it is the easiest way of interacting with their friends, often far easier that collaborating to meet up in person. Boyd notes that most of the teens she interviewed claimed that they would much rather meet with their friends in person, but conflicting schedules, time restraints, and limited freedom imposed by parents forced them to meet on various social media sites, like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter.
One impact that the internet has on society is the increased flow of information. Stories that may have gone unnoticed by the general public can be known all over the country, all over the world, in a matter of minutes. People can quickly learn all the good (like manatees no longer being endangered) and all the bad (like young people getting kidnapped). The lives of teenagers are also more visible, making it seem as if things like underage alcohol consumption are more prevalent. As a result of all these things, parents are more restricting of their children’s actions than they have been in previous generations. Teens, unable to meet in person, are forced to meet online.
The internet implies a certain level of permanence and open visibility. There are measures that can be taken to increase privacy on various sites and remove your history there, but these processes are often difficult and most people don’t know about them. As a result, one person can be seen all over the world, not just in the present but also in the past, their history traced through pictures and posts that can easily be taken out of context. This visibility has made parents nervous about the internet, fearing that their children will find negative influences and draw negative attention. So their wanting to monitor and restrict behavior has extended to the internet. Some parents want to be involved with their teen’s online lives, making comments and “lurking,” making teens feel as if they are not outside their parents influence and are still unable to truly express themselves. They use steganography, or a sort of coded language, to restrict who can understand what they are saying. And these changes in communication make parents become even more nervous, a never ending cycle. Boyd continues to stress that youth lifestyle is pretty much the same, only more visible.