09 July 2013

Title: TMI
Author: Patty Blount
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire, 336 Pages (August 6th, 2013)
Add to: Goodreads
Pre-order here: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository

Synopsis: Best friends don’t lie.

Best friends don’t ditch you for a guy.

Best friends don’t post your deepest, darkest secrets online.

Bailey’s falling head-over-high-heels for Ryder West, a mysterious gamer she met online. A guy she’s never met in person. Her best friend, Meg, doesn’t trust smooth-talking Ryder. He’s just a picture-less profile.

When Bailey starts blowing Meg off to spend more virtual quality time with her new crush, Meg decides it’s time to prove Ryder’s a phony.

But one stupid little secret posted online turns into a friendship-destroying feud to answer the question:

Who is Ryder West?

Guest Post: What Should Parents Know About Social Networking?

Parents have it so hard today. A decade or two ago, we taught our kids “Never talk to strangers.” Today, if they’re online in any way, talking to strangers is exactly what they’re doing. The internet is a wonderful construct – it’s a research assistant, it’s entertainment, it’s education – all in your living room. But it’s also a sewer – an outlet for dirty, hateful, twisted people. Networks that call themselves ‘social’ often encourage behavior that’s anything but.

How do you tell the difference? Be involved. As parents, we need to treat technology the same way we treat cars. Would you ever simply hand your child the car keys with no instruction on how to drive? Yet many of us do just that with gadgets. Few children understand that cell phones, iPads, and the internet aren’t toys.

They don’t understand the permanence of posting comments online
Video game concepts like reset and spawn new life encourage the belief that all technology is transient and temporary, but a comment on a social network – even if it’s deleted – can have permanent effects because there is no way to control the impact of that comment. If you’re angry now and post a rant, but tomorrow, feel bad and delete it from your account, that’s nice, but you have no way to get your friends and their friends and their friends’ friends to ‘unsee’ that comment.

They don’t appreciate how feelings and opinions can evolve as they age
This one goes hand in hand with the previous example about permanence. My high school senior recently got a letter in the mail. It was from himself – an assignment he did in fifth grade. The teacher held on to it all these years. When asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, my son wrote, “Be a movie special effects designer and attract the ladies.” He read this at age eighteen and blushed crimson. He wouldn’t even keep the letter because it was so embarassing. Imagine if this had been on the Internet? My other son wanted a tattoo of his favorite band’s name when he was thirteen. At twenty-one, he hates that band and is so relieved he wasn’t allowed to get the tattoo. Tastes change, friendships change, relationships change, even our politics change as we get older. Posting your rants about a hot topic at sixteen can have a serious and unintended impact when you’re twenty-six and think differently.

They don’t understand the risks of divulging too much information
My oldest son recently sent a tweet describing how excited he was to be heading on a weekend trip with his dad and brother. When I pointed out to him that he essentially told all of his Twitter followers that I would be home alone, he shrugged and said they don’t know where he lives. I reminded him that his profile shows his favorite sports team. How hard would it be to look up our address?

One of the most dangerous networks is FourSquare, the internet version of Here I Am. Some months back, a literary agent I follow on Twitter was attacked when a disgruntled writer learned of her whereabouts from her social network posts and met her there with a bat. Luckily, she survived the attack but the danger cannot be overstated.

They don’t know that people online may not be who they say they are
Some networks, like Facebook, require that you accept friend requests before you can interact with someone. At first glance, this seems safe. But any profile can be hacked. I recently chatted with a known Facebook friend for about ten minutes before I clued in that it wasn’t really him. Encourage your children to ask questions only real friends would know, like what book they’re reading in Lit class or which period they had lunch – something that can prove the online account is really being used by the person it belongs to.

It’s Not All Bad
Social networks are not all bad. One of my sons met a girl he dated for several years online, on a rock band fan forum. He’s a journalism major and through the people he follows online, he obtained an internship this summer blogging for a local sports site. My advice to parents is to defer your child’s access to social networks for as long as possible. Children don’t need cell phones and iPads and Twitter accounts. Monitor and limit their activities. Know their passwords and who their friends are. Stay vigilant and retain a healthy degree of skepticism.

Do you have any social media advice to share? Comments welcome! 

Patty, thank you for writing such a great post that I think everyone should take the time out to read. It has some extremely valuable information for not just parents, but everyone.

About the Author:

Technical writer by day, fiction writer by night, Patty mines her day job for ideas to use in her novels. Her debut YA "Send" was born after a manager suggested she research social networks. Patty adores chocolate, her boys, and books, though not necessarily in that order.

Find Patty Online:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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1 comment:

  1. Patty, I agree with the "It's not all bad" section - meaning that parents should defer access for as long as possible. I know that I personally didn't get to use a computer until I started middle school, and that I didn't really use the Internet until middle school as well. My parents allowed me to make a Facebook profile in 7th grade, but the majority of my social media accounts that I have today were made in high school. For me, I know that that was long enough for me to understand the dangers of the Internet. But today, I see eight-year-olds with social media accounts, iPhones, etc.

    I'm eighteen. I don't even have a smartphone.

    But, that's the way of the world today.

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!


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