While my first thought was that social media could not be ALL THAT BEING 13 was about, my second though was, WHOA. Could social media be playing such a massive part it the world of MANY TEENS that this is the sum-total of the not-all-that-scientific CNN report?
I have heard mystery and horror authors comment on the challenges of writing thriller-style plots in the age of the CELL PHONE. I mean, how many times can a battery die or a teen find him/herself on a wi-fi-free island? But, I think this is only the tip of the iceberg.
An anecdote: As an alumni interviewer for my undergraduate school, I am given a roster of teens and told that they should make first contact with me (instead of my tracking them down). Their first method is almost always email--I was astonished when one kid actually phoned me. Thinking about this, I've realized that even my sons prefer to be reached via text (versus old-school call). Perhaps the cellphone/text/IM dynamic has changed teens' comfort levels over interpersonal interactions. In writing fiction, it would be implausible for a kid to work out pick-up logistics with a parent via phone call, or for a group of teens to arrange a club meeting by anything other than group text. And this leads us to the use of acronyms and other lingo that seep into all forms of dialogue--even the spoken kind--such as when my son says, "JK, mom" (just kidding).
As I revise my current novel, I have added another (and there are MANY) manuscript read-through for TECHNOLOGY. As I re-read the text, I ask myself:
- Would this really be a conversation, a text, or something else?
- If a character is having difficulty communicating with a parent or other older adult, how might social media help/interfere/be implied?
- Is there enough social media in the text to make the lifestyle of the protagonist seem realistic?
- To what types of social media does my MC subscribe? Does my MC use internet technology in other important ways (e.g., YouTube, watching NetFlix, restricted school web services)?
- What kind of phone does the protagonist have, where does s/he keep it, what are the school rules about phones, etc.?
- Without being too trendy, are there technology-based expressions that might authenticate dialogue or description in the story?
- Are there any plot gaps that might be helped/hindered by internet access?
Wow, another revision layer. Ugh. And TTFN (okay, that's an oldie, but you get it).