Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Review: @Sophie Takes a #Selfie

@Sophie Takes a #Selfie: Rules and Etiquette For Taking Good Care Before You Share

by: J. J. Cannon
Illustrated by: Bridget Doe

I remember when Tink was in Kindergarten and told me one of her little 5 year old friends already had an iPhone. By the time they got into 2nd grade, this same little friend was "face timing" her other little friend who also had the same device.

And I was all like... Wow.

CNN calls them "Generation M2" - youth between the ages of 8 and 18 whose lives are immersed in electronic media. Did you know that 93% of kids age 12 through 17 are active online? In fact, the average tween and teen spend an average 8 hours a day looking at some sort of electronic screen. I know, I know... not too surprising.

Outside of apps, video games, and texting there is this whole social media thing: Kik, Instagram, Twitter and the whole "Selfie" phenomenon. That starts pretty young too.  My nieces got their iPhones and started on social media networks at around age 13. It seems like 12 - 13 is the average age parents let that whole thing start... just by my own observation, give or take.  I know plenty of 10 year olds that already actively use their own Instagram accounts and you can be sure that sometimes there is a second one "hidden" from mom and dad's prying eyes.

@Sophie Takes a Selfie is a book that is long overdue in my opinion!

I'm not here to say whether social media is "right" or "wrong" or what age it should start.  What I AM here to say is that someone finally wrote a little handbook to help tween girls navigate the world of social media responsibly. And that someone is the amazing J. J. Cannon, author of @Sophie Takes a #Selfie.

Social Media Expert J. J. Cannon wanted to give parents a teaching tool and give kids a necessary foundation when they get ready to embark upon the world of social media. Lets face it - social media is here to stay, like it or not! We can't pretend it doesn't exist and we can't hand our kids a phone with access to the entire universe in the palm of their hand and just let them figure it all out on their own. Especially when they are 10, 11 and 12 and don't yet possess the maturity needed to navigate the dicey waters. (Heck, most ADULTS can't handle it!) Cannon encourages conversation with our youth about social media - the challenges, etiquette, pitfalls and fun.

@Sophie Takes a #Selfie opens up that dialogue.  Written especially for tween girls, Cannon presents the 'Sweet 16' rules and etiquette (and dangers) of sharing on social media platforms. What I love is that she doesn't lecture her readers, she just informs in a very cute but direct way.

Let's face it - we DO judge a book by its cover, and this cover screams out "READ ME" to young girls. It is so eye catching and cute! Sure, it's likely going to be the parent who buys this book and suggests their child read it, but the CHILD will absolutely gravitate toward it and learn so much inside the pages. Case in point, my 9 year old picked up the book after noticing the amazing, colorful art work, and read it cover to cover in less than an hour even though I didn't ask her to.

The art work really makes this book! Illustrator Bridget Doe creates eye catching images to accompany each chapter.

The book itself is less than 40 pages, its chapters are very short, easy to read, succinct, conversational and sometimes funny. Cannon's delivery is SPOT ON and she knows how to reach her audience. Topics include: Being careful of "oversharing," how to handle cyber bullying and hate speech, staying grounded and not pinning your self-worth onto how many "likes" you get or "friends and followers" you have, establishing boundaries, and protecting your privacy.

What I especially love is the strong focus on self-esteem and an ethic of kindness that runs through out this book.  I definitely see it as a great teaching tool for classrooms, girl scout troops, religious groups, and other self-esteem building projects designed for young girls.

My daughters are years away from iPhones and social media use. I'm pretty conservative with that stuff. But, I know it will be inevitable. When I hand them the golden key to this kingdom, I'm handing them THIS book too - and we will talk about it together.  They need to be prepared. They need a guidebook, and this is the best one I've seen!

To purchase a copy of @Sophie Takes A #Selfie by J. J. Cannon at Amazon click HERE.   The Kindle version is $7.99 and paperback is $13.49 - and a better way, honestly, to appreciate the adorable, colorful art work that transfixes young girls (and old moms!) It is also available on Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Visit @Sophie Takes A #Selfie website to where Cannon shares the most current information about youth in social media. It is a great resource for kids and parents alike! The best part is that kids and parents can use the “Ask Sophie” feature for all your tricky social media questions.

Want to learn more? Here is author J. J. Cannon's appearance on FOX29 Good Day Philadelphia where she talks about about how important it is to educate and prepare our girls before they dive into the world of social media.

(This review is my own opinion, and the review was completely voluntary. I just really liked the book - AND the author! No compensation was received for writing this post. )

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