Here are the books that I read in April:
I thought I could skim-read this book to get a few useful quotes for my own work … but it has taken me much longer than planned to read (COVID19 mental stress has not helped) because this is a really well articulated book challenging the typically harm-driven expectations of young people’s experiences online, and instead draws on the lived experience of a low-income school in the USA, set against wider research and insights into policies that have impacted upon how young people use young people. There are cogent arguments as to how a more opportunity-focused set of policies (government, platforms, schools) would actually give a more equitable experience for most young people online (in fact most users), but there is the challenge of dealing with organisations that do well through surveillance, management and policy-management and don’t recognise that they are replicating the offline barriers to life within the online space. Highly recommended (academic book, but highly readable, and draws upon stories of particular students).
I actually think I may have read this twice, but even once I started getting deja vu, I wanted to know how the story was going to turn out (again). Well written as to how many factors – cultural, etc explain people’s behaviours (but that we can look at people and think that they are all happy, without knowing what is going on behind the scenes). Some serious storylines about domestic violence, etc. Well structured, rounded believable characters.
This book, although not explicitly about technology, has some good sections on this. It provides a lot of practical and useable information to ensure children have a good childhood experience, without overload, relating to thinking about how teenagers are developing psychologically.
As a historian with an interest in moral panics, this was one of those books that I wish I had found before … As I’ve so much material to get through, I had to largely skim read, but thought it was great to have so much empirical research which demonstrates that the negative comments that are now said about social media can be found in the past with TV, video games, etc. Powerful and enlightening read.
I only read a selection from this book, and some of it had the typical (can be problematic) narrative that screentime is a problem, but as a psychologist who deals with young people and ‘issues’ around sex, I thought there was some interesting content to take on board.
I thought this was going to be a terrible book, and it’s pretty basic, but actually a lot of the suggestions (once you take the anti-technology aspects of it away), are actually good suggestions for bonding with your child, and helping them develop good values.
I really enjoyed reading this. Heidi Campbell pulled together 30 essays in 2 weeks in response to the Coronavirus crisis – from ministers and scholars that she knew had been thinking about online church for many years before this crisis, which has pushed every church to think about how they might engage/function online. The essays are the right length to get a bit of insight into what people are thinking (though slightly leaving you wanting more, but I see that as a good thing), and there’s a mix of theory and practice that should help those thinking both theologically and practically about how to do church in an age of lockdown and social distancing.
NOTE: I wrote a chapter in this book, but hadn’t seen what anyone else had written, so I’m really reviewing the rest of the book.
I’ve never been big on gaming, but I’m always open to seeing why people love computer games and how to encourage those who do love them that it’s not a waste of their time. This book had a nice mix of autobiography and decent academic research woven in together to give really helpful insights to understanding why so many people worry about games (moral panics, screentime, etc) and why there are so many positive aspects that games players take from it.
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.