American Girls and Their Social Media Lives

Jaquelle Crowe | March 25, 2016

Being a teenage girl has never been easy. They have to deal with changing bodies and shifting perceptions, boys and temptations, school and drama, popularity and parents, and future fears and expectations. I should know; I’m a teenage girl.

But today is different. Or so argues Nancy Jo Sales in her disturbing and provocative new book, American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers. Today teenage girls live online, a recent study revealing that “92 percent were going online from a mobile device daily” (10). But this online world isn’t the screen of innocent fun so many parents believe it to be. It’s a hypersexualized world where validation, acceptance, and worth are inexorably connected to sexual appeal and appetite.

Total Transparency 

Over the course of two and a half years, Sales traveled the country and interviewed more than 200 girls (aged 13 to 19) about social media and sexuality. These encounters are all documented in American Girls. She divides her book into seven chapters, each covering a year of teenhood and the themes that emerged from her conversations with each age group.

Sales covered a lot of ground over the course of those conversations. The girls opened up about alcoholism and self-esteem, the devastating effects of cyberbullying…

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