From the Beacon: High-tech teens highlighted at library

This past week was Teen Tech Week at the Beaufort County Public Library. An annual library tradition, Teen Tech Week promotes the use of technology in responsible and ethical ways by teens.

Recent studies from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project show that on average 8- to 18-year-olds spend more than six hours a day using technology, including TV, video games and computers. That is a lot of time to spend "plugged in."

For a break from all those electronics, pick up one of these teen novels that contemplate what happens when technology use spins out of control:

"The Gospel According to Larry" by Janet Tashjian: Josh Swensen is a smart, thoughtful, quiet 17-year-old who wants to change the world. Using the alias "Larry," he creates a blog where he can post his rants about consumerism and our celebrity-obsessed society. When a few kids from his school notice his blog, Josh is flattered and excited to see his ideas gaining popularity. Soon the site is receiving national attention, and there is a groundswell of support for Larry's ideas. Fan clubs form, activism spreads and there is even a huge music festival which U2 headlines. But Josh is quickly overwhelmed by the celebrity status he has obtained. This clever, insightful novel offers up a terrific story and raises some thought-provoking questions about our culture.

"Heir Apparent" by Vivian Vande Velde: It is Giannine's 14th birthday and she decides to spend it at the Rasmussem Gaming Center Virtual Reality Arcade. Once there, she chooses to play a total-immersion role-playing game called "Heir Apparent." In the midst of the game the arcade is damaged and the only way she can successfully get out of the game is to complete it, otherwise she risks having permanent brain damage. To make matters even more complicated, each time Giannine's character dies within the game, she must start all over again from the beginning. A cast of ghosts, wizards, dragons, witches and an evil queen rounds out this fast-paced, futuristic, fantasy tale.

"Wish You Were Dead" by Todd Strasser: An unidentified high school student writes a blog entry sharing her negative feelings about Lucy Cunningham, the most popular girl in school. It seems like typical teenage venting until Lucy goes missing a few days later. Is it just a coincidence or is there a connection between the blog entry and the disappearance? The tension mounts as more blog postings are linked to other disappearances and anonymous, vaguely threatening e-mail messages appear in the main character's inbox. Strasser has created a suspenseful story which will appeal to anyone who likes mysteries with a large dose of horror.

"Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow: In a near-future San Francisco, 17-year-old computer hacker Marcus is in the wrong place at the wrong time during a terrorist attack on the city and is subsequently held for questioning for six days by the Department of Homeland Security. Upon his release Marcus bands together with other teenagers to use the Internet and other technologies to thwart the efforts of Homeland Security to track their every move. An exciting homage to George Orwell's "1984," "Little Brother" is fast-paced, thrilling and surprisingly educational about a variety of technologies