Friday 4 January 2019

Review: The Teenage Guide to Life Online by Nicola Morgan (Walker Books, 2018)

What follows is a book review by my son, Jakin:
This book is directed at youth (hence the title) and does a good job at persuading the reader that smartphones can be both beneficial and detrimental, and also providing practical steps to take to prevent and manage addictions to the internet. Overall, this book is well-organised and the author makes all points very clear to readers.
The author uses a lot of statistics and research results in the process of showing the positive and negative effects of the internet. To begin with, the author introduces the extent at which the internet has developed, as well as the pervasiveness of smartphones. “According to the website Statista, in 2014 there were 1.57 billion smartphone users around the world. This is predicted to rise to 2.87 billion by 2020.” (pg. 17). The author uses statistics like these to help readers realise that technology might be a problem. The author even compiles pages of resources and links to websites for the reader to check out at the end of every chapter. These are what the claims the author makes are based on.
The author splits the book into many sections of using the internet, and in each category she states both positives and negatives, then concludes. These help readers to identify where they have their own struggles and where they are strong at using technology well. If they require help, the author provides tips after each negative point. For example, in the category “Reading on Screens”, the author makes a point that we may be losing the ability to read deeply or slowly. After explaining how screens may cause us to do so, the author, under the heading “How to avoid this negative:”, provides advice, such as ‘2. When you are reading something important, tell yourself: “I’ll read this slowly and concentrate.”’.

This book comes out as one that clearly makes its case on technology, providing a balanced argument on the benefits and drawbacks of the internet, and yet is also practical for those seeking help. This book would be best read while in a discussion between parent and child, such that parents can guide their children in taking action if necessary while they read the book together. Of course, parents could also unexpectedly learn something from the book when discussing with their children, so everyone benefits.

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