Growing Up Online

Growing Up Online

Just how radically is the internet changing the experience of childhood? Can adults keep up with kids?

The internet and the digital world was something that belonged to adults, but as more and more kids are growing up online, parents are finding themselves on the outside looking in. It’s been said that the internet has created the greatest generation gap since rock and roll.

Young people are creating very public private worlds online, often outside of their parents’ view. Teens share personal information and post photos and videos of themselves on a regular basis. Is this just old teenager culture in a new wrapper or a real cause for concern?

This hour-long, seven-part Frontline video report raises important questions about how the Internet is transforming childhood. Parents struggle to understand what their kids are up to and worry about cyber bullying and sexual predators. In response, kids say they know what they are doing and how to stay safe. And though they fret about web sites that share tips on anorexia and the best ways to commit suicide, many experts agree that kids are quite net-savvy and usually behave responsibly.

In schools, teachers are trying to figure out how to keep up with a student body more at home with technology than most faculty. Teachers struggle to reach a generation that no longer reads books or newspapers. Teachers must also try to re-define cheating, as one student describes using an online study guide to read “Romeo and Juliet” in five minutes.

Ultimately, the internet is a new weapon in the arsenal of adolescence, and educating adults and children about responsibility and safety is our best defense.

This project includes an hour of videos divided into seven chapters, interviews with teachers, researchers and high school students, tips for parents on the myths and realities of online predators, and a producer’s blog – plus updates on some of the kids in the videos since the program originally aired on TV.

CHAPTER ONE: Living Their Lives Essentially Online
90% of teens are online, immersed in a virtual world that’s largely hidden from their parents

CHAPTER TWO: A Revolution in Classrooms and Social Life
As teachers are figuring out if the old rules still apply, at home kids are socializing at digital hangouts like MySpace and Facebook.

CHAPTER THREE: Self Expression, Trying on New Identities
Jessica Long felt shy and awkward. But she’s reborn online as goth artist and model and finds fame.

CHAPTER FOUR: The Child Predator Fear
Media coverage of predators has been building. But researchers in a Justice Dept.-funded study found the threat has been exaggerated.

CHAPTER FIVE: Private Worlds Outside Parents’ Reach?
Online Sara finds a private niche where she can be “100% me.” But in Cam’s case, his mother worries – and she’s always on the alert.

CHAPTER SIX: Cyberbullying
Taunts and insults once left at the schoolyard now find their way online, hounding a kid 24 hours a day – in this tragic instance, to suicide.

In the end did some of the teens and parents come to better understand some of the risks, realities and misconceptions of teen life on the web?

Length: 56:00

Produced and Directed by Rachel Dretzin and John Maggio
Written by Rachel Dretzin
Editor: R.A. Fedde
Associate Producer: Caitlin McNally
Camera: Tom Hurwitz
Sound: Mark Mandler

Member Comments (2)

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  Posted by miniclip on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 11:37 PST
miniclip... This is my Excerpt...
  Posted by google on Sunday, July 07, 2013 at 00:57 PST
google... G