Nancy Jo Sales, journalist, to discuss her new book "American Girls" on February 16, 2017 at UAlbany

Book examines the impact of social media on today's teenagers

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Nancy Jo Sales, author of the nonfiction book "American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers" (2016) Photo credit: Jayne Wexler

ALBANY, NY (01/30/2017)(readMedia)-- Nancy Jo Sales will read from her new book, American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 16 in the Campus Center Room 375 on UAlbany's Uptown campus. The reading will be immediately followed by a discussion between author and audience. Free and open to the public, the event is sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute in association with UAlbany's Sexuality Month, a program of the Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program of Counseling and Psychological Services.

Nancy Jo Sales, journalist and contributing editor for Vanity Fair, is tthe author of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers (2016). USA Today said Sales "offer[s] a harrowing glimpse into a world where self-esteem, friendships and sexuality...are defined by the parameters of social media." Publishers Weekly describes it as "intelligent, history-grounded investigation." Teen Vogue credits Sales' investigation, spanning two and a half years and encompassing some two hundred interviews, for successfully tracking "how today's Internet-centric culture affects teenagers' psychological, emotional, and sexual development," and for ultimately "exposing adolescent sexism, emotional detachment, and double standards in the digital age."

Anne North of The New York Times said "Too often, discussions of teenagers exclude teenagers themselves, and it's clear that Sales has gone to great pains to listen to her subjects and to earn their trust." North adds that the reader's reward for Sales' efforts are candid anecdotes that "make a persuasive case that social media has ratcheted up the pressure girls have long faced to appear both desirable and chaste."

In its review of American Girls, The Wall Street Journal concludes "social media is life; social media destroys life." Publishers Weekly elaborates on this paradox by explaining that "teens value social media as a revolutionary tool for collective action, but Sales finds that across race, class, and region, social media reinforces a sexual double standard." While disentangling this problem is a task for not only the author, but the reader as well, Sales brings us all much closer to the heart of the matter.

American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers is Sales' second investigative book. Her first, The Bling Ring (2013), tracked the infamous band of teenage burglars who fleeced A-list celebrities. In that earlier book Sales expanded on her original Vanity Fair story (which Sofia Coppola optioned and later developed into the 2013 film of the same name starring Emma Watson). Many of the themes present in The Bling Ring, including what Tim Adams of The Guardian characterizes as "the sexualisation of children, the empty aspirations of a fame culture," are explored in greater depth in American Girls.

Nancy Jo Sales has a reputation as a leading voice on youth culture, beginning with her days at People magazine in the mid-nineties, and continuing through Contributing Editor posts at NY Magazine and most recently Vanity Fair. Youth culture and technology advance quickly and with American Girls Sales again helps us to keep pace and, according to the San Francisco Chronicle "forces us to face a disturbing new reality in a book that should be required reading for parents, teachers, school administrators, legislators and the boys' club of Silicon Valley."

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at