Privacy in the Digital Age, A Look at IN CASE YOU MISSED IT by author Sarah Darer Littman
What if you kept a diary and suddenly everyone could read what you had said in private? That’s the question posed in IN CASE YOU MISSED IT by author Sarah Darer Littman. Today she is here to talk about her latest book and the idea of privacy in an increasingly open and online world.
Did you ever keep a journal in middle school or high school? My teen diaries provide a wealth of humor, insight, and sometimes, deep embarrassment when I read back on them through the lens of longer life experience.
Even now, the thought of those journals being made public in anything other than a deeply disguised fictional form is mortifying.
My teen diaries were hand written, but even though I tried to hide them, they were vulnerable to discovery by my siblings and parents. Those discoveries had negative consequences, but nothing like what happens to Sammy Wallach, the main character in my latest YA novel, IN CASE YOU MISSED IT.
Sammy thinks she’s being smart by keeping her journal on her laptop, so her parents and little brother RJ can’t read it. What she forgets is that her laptop is set to automatically back up to the cloud. Her most private thoughts become public as “collateral damage” when hacktivists target her father, the CEO of a major bank. Sammy has been keeping secrets from her parents – but they’ve got secrets of their own. When everything becomes public, can they all learn to trust again?
One thing for which I’ve become increasingly grateful as I’ve watched my kids grow up in the Internet age is that I was able to make all the many, many mistakes I did in relative privacy. Most of my worst offenses are hazy memories in the heads of middle school and high school friends. I didn’t have to worry about them being documented on social media.
If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that a great proportion of adults have difficulty with using social media responsibly. Yet we put this technology in the hands of younger and younger kids, whose frontal cortexes (the area of the brain that controls reasoning and helps with rational decision making) haven’t fully matured and developed, and we expect them to behave in a way many adults still have been unable to master and model.
As with all of my books, I hope IN CASE YOU MISSED IT helps to start some conversations, especially about online privacy and personal responsibility in the social media era.
Publisher’s Book Description
Everyone has secrets—until they go viral.
Sammy Wallach has epic plans for the end of junior year: Sneak out to the city to see her favorite band. Get crush-worthy Jamie Moss to ask her to prom. Rock all exams (APs and driver’s).
With a few white lies, some killer flirting, and tons of practice, Sammy’s got things covered. That is, until the international bank her dad works for is attacked by hacktivists who manage to steal everything in the Wallach family’s private cloud, including Sammy’s entire digital life. Literally the whole world has access to her emails, texts, photos, and, worst of all, journal.
Life. Is. Over.
Now Sammy’s best friends are furious about things she wrote, Jamie thinks she’s desperate, and she can barely show her face at school. Plus, her parents know all the rules she broke. But Sammy’s not the only one with secrets—her family has a few of its own that could change everything. And while the truth might set you free, no one said it was going to be painless. Or in Sammy’s case, private. (Scholastic, October 11, 2016)
About Sarah Darer Littman
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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