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American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers (Paperback)

| Vintage | 1/24/2017

ISBN-10 : 0804173184   ISBN-13 : 9780804173186   List Price : $16.95

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A New York Times Bestseller

Award-winning Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales crisscrossed the country talking to more than two hundred girls between the ages of thirteen and nineteen about their experiences online and off. They are coming of age online in a hypersexualized culture that has normalized extreme behavior, from pornography to the casual exchange of nude photographs; a culture rife with a virulent new strain of sexism; a culture in which teenagers are spending so much time on technology and social media that they are not developing basic communication skills.
The dominant force in the lives of girls coming of age in America today is social media: Instagram, Whisper, Vine, Youtube, Kik,, Tinder. 

Provocative, explosive, and urgent, American Girls will ignite much-needed conversation about how we can help our daughters and sons negotiate the new social and sexual norms that govern their lives.


Dear Parents,

As a journalist who has covered teenagers for twenty years, and as the mother of a teenage girl, writing American Girls was very important to me. I’m so grateful to you for reading it and discussing it with your children and fellow parents. As I say in the book, I feel the stakes for girls could not be higher. As parents we need to know what is happening with our children on social media, and what we can do to help them navigate through the unprecedented challenges they face with this new technology. American Girls is not a parenting book, but I hope the information it provides and the testimonies of the girls I interviewed will form the basis of an understanding of what girls around the country are experiencing online. Every parent has to decide for him- or herself how to respond. Girls I interviewed told me that they want and need our guidance, and I feel it is our responsibility to give it. It all begins with a conversation.

--Nancy Jo Sales

Think about it:

*Seventy-three percent of kids have smartphones.
*Teenagers spend up to eleven hours a day plugged into an electronic device.
*Kids begin seeing online porn as young as age six, and the majority of boys and girls have watched it before they turn eighteen.
*Ninety-two percent of American children have an online presence before the age of two.
*Seven percent of Tinder’s estimated 50 million users are between the ages of thirteen and seventeen.
*In 2015, girls exchanged 40 to 50 texts a day (Pew study). Other studies found the number to be more than 100.

Social media platforms your children are probably using: - a Q&A-style platform where users post personal information and invite others to ask questions and make comments, which they can do anonymously

Facebook - a social networking site where users create profiles featuring pictures and personal information, including geographic information. The platform allows for communication between profiles, creation of groups and events, and offers a stream of “friend activity” via a newsfeed.

GroupMe - a mobile app that offers free group text messaging. It allows for easy exchange of pictures, videos, and Web links. Users can also send private messages, but only to someone who also has the GroupMe app.

iMessage - Apple's proprietary instant-messaging service, which allows sending of text, photo, video, and audio messages from the iOS platform and features group messaging

Instagram - photo- and video-sharing social media app where users create profiles, follow other profiles, and comment on and like images or videos. Unlike on Facebook, following a profile on Instagram is not symmetrical, so connections are not always mutual. In addition to posting content publicly, a user can also privately share photos or videos with one of his or her followers or a group of followers. Instagram profiles can be made private, requiring the user to give permission before someone can begin viewing their content.

Kik Messenger - an instant-messaging service available on mobile phones. Users can remain anonymous on this platform.

Periscope - a live video-streaming app. The streaming video can be made public or viewable to only certain users.

Pinterest - a social network that allows users to visually share and discover new interests by “pinning” images or videos to their own or others' boards and browsing what other users have pinned. Functions as a sort of online mood board.

Reddit - an entertainment, social networking, and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links in the manner of an online bulletin board system.

Snapchat - a photo- and video-messaging app where images are sent to a specific follower and then disappear after a set amount of time, or are available as a “story” that is broadcast to all of the user’s followers for twenty-four hours. Users add each other as friends or follow stories of fellow users. Snapchat users receive immediate information on who has opened their Snaps or watched their Snapchat Stories.

Tinder - a location-based dating app that facilitates communication between mutually interested users, allowing matched users to chat. Users swipe right (interested) or left (not interested). Once a match is made, the users can begin messaging each other inside the Tinder app.

Tumblr - a micro-blogging platform and social networking website for sharing and following user-generated content.

Twitter - a social networking service that allows users to broadcast short posts of 140 characters or fewer called tweets. Users can also broadcast photos and videos in their tweets. As on Instagram, users have followers and follow other profiles, but the connection is not always mutual.

Vine - a video-sharing platform of looped files between three and six seconds long.

Yik Yak - an app for participating in anonymous discussion threads within a five-mile radius.

YouTube - a video-sharing website. Users can create profiles and channels, which other users subscribe to in order to see updates. Users can also leave comments on video posts.
What we mean when we talk about sexism on social media:
agency - Independence of choice and action, self-definition and self-direction
double standard - A set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another; especially a code of morals that applies more severe standards of sexual behavior to women than it does to men
feminism - The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities; a political discourse and movement aimed at transformation away from patriarchy and toward a society free from gender oppression
media - The main means of mass communication (especially television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet) regarded collectively
misogyny - Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women
objectification - When a person is defined by her/his sexual attributes and the rest of her/his personality and existence are ignored; objectification involves the reduction of a person to an object for someone else’s gaze or pleasure
patriarchy - A society or social system that is controlled by men or in which men hold a disproportionate share of the power
rape culture - A society in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender, sex, and sexuality
sexism - Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex
sex-positive - The idea that all sex and expressions of sexuality, as long as they are healthy and explicitly consensual, are positive things. Sex positivity stresses informed consent and agency within one’s own sexuality and aims to remove stigma and shame from all sexual choices.
sexual harassment -  Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
sexualization - When a person’s value is defined by his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics, or when a person is made into a object for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision-making. Sexualization also occurs when sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.
slut-shaming - Attacking a person for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings, especially as pertains to the sexual activity of girls and women (see double standard)
victim-blaming - When the victim of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment is held to be wholly or partially responsible for the wrongful conduct committed against her or him
War on Women - An expression used in United States to describe certain Republican Party policies and legislation as a wide-scale effort to restrict women’s rights, especially reproductive rights

Product Details

  • ISBN-10: 0804173184
  • ISBN-13: 9780804173186
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 416