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Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Teens Gone Wired: Are You Ready?" (Lyndsay Green)

TITLE: Teens Gone Wired: Are You Ready?
AUTHOR: Lyndsay Green
PUBLISHER: Toronto, ON: Thomas Allen Publishers, 2011, (288 pages).
ISBN: 978-088762-8092

As more and more people are spending greater amounts of time online, books pointing to the dangers of excessive use are also pouring in. This book is written primarily for parents of teenagers, but it is useful reading for all readers. As Green writes, 'parenting a teen' is like tightrope walking, which sets the tone for the entire book. Through 6 parts, Green navigates between the good and the bad, the acceptable and the unacceptable, the merits and the dangers of online use.

The author begins Part One using some understanding of teen social behaviour and psychology. Between useful time, and wasteful time, education vs monitoring, fun vs obsessions, multitasking vs single-focus, persevering vs dropping out, it is about understanding the teen mind while highlighting the pros and cons of online usage.

Part Two addresses the upsides and downsides of social communications. Green covers how much personal information to share and what not to share, sexting vs criminal, forming an identity vs mere performance, privacy vs anonymity, and tips to basically allow the teen to expand his/her social circles discreetly.

Part Three is about the teenager self-esteem development. Balance is the key to living real vs virtual lives, self-esteen vs narcissism, empathy or indifference, sexual identity vs confusion, education vs entertainment, practicing vs preaching.

Part Four approaches the role the teen plays in society. When is it sharing responsibility and when is it behaving with a sense of entitlement? What is the right thing to do? Being participative or being insular from the world? Green gives lots of tips to guide readers through wise decisions.

Part Five is an important part about physical appearance. Teens grow fast. They are no longer kids, but they are not yet adults. Green shows the way to inculcate self-acceptance, body decoration without mutilating oneself, living smoke free, drinking moderately, making the difference between getting high or hooked, eating or controlling, and adequate physical care.

Part Six is the key part that brings all of these together. Here is where the adult parent communicates wisely to encourage good communication, giving teens an appropriate curfew vs freedom, safe driving, partying, learning, and many more.

Closing Thoughts

This is more of a guide book for parents to find ways to communicate well with their teens. Honestly, the materials in the book can be quite overwhelming at first. While it is non-fiction, the stories and the format of the book appears like a novel. The table of contents enable one to get a good grasp of where the author is going. What is most helpful is the extensive understanding of the teen mind. There is also the advantage of equipping the parent with communicating helps, to kickstart the conversation. Above all, the point is about having a healthy balance. This is something that teenagers need. This is something that parents themselves need to practise. Perhaps, the book is for parents to learn from first before teaching it to teens. Mind you, teens are very sensitive to anything resembling hypocrisy.

The key to managing relationships with this: Greater time online needs more time offline.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


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