Growing Up Online

January 21, 2008 at 1:38 pm 1 comment

Of local interest because it affects many of us, as well as the future of this country.


This Week: “Growing Up Online” (60 minutes),
Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings)
Live Discussion: Chat with producers Rachel Dretzin and John Maggio Jan. 23, 11am ET

This Tuesday’s FRONTLINE comes with a warning for everyone who’s never made a “friend” on MySpace, chatted with someone online, or sent a text message from a cell phone: You live in a very different world than the one in which a new generation is growing up, and this widening digital divide is becoming much more profound than anyone might have once imagined.

In “Growing Up Online,” producers Rachel Dretzin and John Maggio take us inside the private worlds that kids are making on the Web, often outside the view, and comprehension, of the adults in their lives.

A teenage girl creates a new name and persona for herself and becomes an Internet celebrity from the privacy of her own bedroom. A lunch room fight gets broadcast nationally on YouTube. A ninth grader is relentlessly teased online and, tragically, is pushed to suicide by a friend’s instant messages, setting his father on a journey through his son’s hard drive to figure out what went wrong.

These are some of the film’s more extreme and dramatic stories, but perhaps more provocative are some of the smaller moments: A high schooler matter-of-factly reports that he never reads books (“If there were 27 hours in a day, I’d read Hamlet,” he says), and he’s pretty sure that most of his fellow students don’t read either. A young woman privately confesses that she’s slipped into an online world of anorexics that she doesn’t know how to escape. A boy logs onto a new Web site that aspires to be MySpace for the kindergarten crowd.

Throughout the film, parents hover nervously around their children’s computers, teachers try hard not to wag their fingers at students who’d rather watch a podcast than write an essay, and academics try to understand what may be the greatest cultural shift in American history. But if you think the answers predictable, be prepared for the surprise of a teacher who thinks cheating might not be such a bad thing and a father who comes around to supporting the risque photographs that his teenage daughter had been secretly posting on the Web.

We hope you’ll tune in to see how it all plays out on Tuesday night, and then join us online to watch it again, explore interviews with teachers and experts on teens and new media, and join our discussion at: .

Senior Editor
Ken Dornstein


Entry filed under: about teenagers, Forest Hills, parenting, resource, timely topic.

Citizen Police Academy & Garfunkel

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ed Q.  |  January 22, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    thanks for the heads up on this. Intrriguing and goes along with the tragedy in Missouri profiled in the New Yorker this month.


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