Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

"Growing Up Online"

Frontline

Watching Growing Up Online was like seeing many of the words and stories in my book, Totally Wired: What teens and tweens are really doing online, come to life on TV. In the spirit of full disclosure, the producers interviewed me as part of their pre-production research, and I allowed them to film at my conference focusing on youth and technology in San Francisco (I'm pretty sure that's where they shot the interview with researcher danah boyd).

FRONTLINE Growing Up Online: Teen Gaming Party

Having spent the last three years writing and promoting my book and speaking to numerous teens, parents and educators around the country about growing up "totally wired," nothing in the documentary surprised me. Still, I worry that by focusing so much of the program on the story of a bullied teen who committed suicide after finding a likeminded friend online, a teen girl active on pro-anorexia websites, another teen girl who posted "Suicide Girl"-like modeling shots on MySpace, and videos of teens fighting or drinking on MySpace and Facebook, we continue to get a fairly sensational portrait of growing up online.

The challenge with only having an hour to explore such complex issues is that it's not long enough. The producers took their most dramatic and compelling subjects and spent a decent chunk of time with each of them. That said, I loved Jessica's story about a shy, awkward girl who reinvents herself online - if only because it ended with her parents realizing what an outlet the internet is for someone like her, someone who may not fit into the rigid social hierarchy of high school. I often get asked whether I think technology is replacing or diminishing real face-to-face intimacy. The truth is that being "real" in person is very hard for a lot of teens. Jessica was only able to be "real" through an alter ego called "Autumn Edows" - a virtual personae strangers adored while in real life, i.e. at high school, "Jessica," who looks just like "Autumn," suffered. I also thought Sarah, the teen hiding her eating disorder, saying that she felt she could only be her true self online (connecting to other girls seeking "thinspiration,") spoke to her struggle to maintain a happy-go-lucky facade with her friends and parents in "the real world."

After the very sad story of the bullied teen who committed suicide, the narrator did remind us that most teens who are bullied don't kill themselves. While cyberbullying is a major issue, and there are definitely some severe and heartbreaking cases, many teens who experience harassment or bullying online tend to block, ignore, delete or tell off the person harassing them - then they move on. The documentary was actually more balanced when it came to the predator issue contrasting the actual number of abductions with the relentless media coverage, showing how fearful the "Dr. Phil" mom was of stranger danger and the tiny chance that one of her teens would be stalked by someone who just saw their photo online, the online safety expert yelling at parents to manage their kids' internet use (which the Dr. Phil mom translated as insisting on her teens' Facebook passwords), danah boyd talking about who is really at-risk for meeting strangers (teens who are at-risk offline, too) and the teens themselves saying they just ignore predators.

What I felt was missing from the documentary were the teens who are close to their parents and share pieces of their online lives with them, whether it's what they write on their blog or even playing a video game together. I wanted to see more reporting on what's happening with technology in schools to put the two teachers at the New Jersey high school in a more macro context as well as more on how the internet has opened up new educational opportunities (beyond just cheating with Sparknotes). I also wanted to see some positive examples of how teens are using the internet to create social change, show off their creativity or launch their own businesses. Missing, too, was how teens can also find healthy support and resources online - not just pro-ana or pro-suicide sites.

What Growing Up Online does offer parents, teachers and teenagers is a jumping off point to discuss some of these important issues together. Jessica's story is perfect for talking about managing your online identity - who you are at school vs. at home vs. at work vs. online vs. with a particular group of friends. It's also a nice opening to discuss the kind of attention girls tend to get when they post provocative photos (even the artsy variety) and the kind of trouble they can get into (when another parent finds them and tells the principal). Ryan's story should inspire discussion about bullying - online and off, and how important it is for kids to be able to continue to talk to their parents about what's happening. The story about the girls' MySpace war that escalated into a brawl at school is a starting point for discussing how it's easier to say meaner stuff online. And the cautionary tail of the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) mom and the NYC train party photos on Facebook should provide fodder for a discussion around the public nature of the internet and whether or not parents have a right to see their teen's profile.

As Ryan's father so thoughtfully said, the internet did not make his son commit suicide, but it does magnify and amplify these very human impulses. This program succeeds at putting real faces on the sensational headlines we read about this generation growing up online.

Comments

Given that the documentary acknowledged a generational gap, I think PBS should have done more to delve into the perspective of the internet users. This generation includes college graduates as well, who would be able to present a more mature perspective than high schoolers, with more objective self-criticism and information on the integration of the internet generation into the working world.

a.k.a. thoz kids wur n00bz.

I'm glad PBS did the story/ I wish it was a recurring series. There is such a need for this. Schools should have mandatory curriculum delivered by highly effective teachers. One part that was revealing was the one daughter of the PTA Mom that said something to the effect that she doesn't bother using the family computer at home because her mom polices it so strictly. The girl simply uses the computer at other friends houses.... scary. Definitely the need to balance concerned oversight with driving kids out of the home. We need to teach kids safe and ethical use... they will find and access these new tools and forms of communication no matter how tall of a fence we try to put up around them.

The story did provide a breadth of coverage into the varying issues of the parent - child relationship when dealing with online worlds, but there was little in the way of clarity or guidance for either group. Seems to have been the "SparkNotes" version of the entire topic in one hour.

Parents and schools need to look beyond the technology and strive to build the trusting relationships with students and kids, making them feel comfortable enough to involve us in their world.

I am amazed at what I suspected did not compare to what is actually happening.
It seems that the kids today are raised by parents that don't know to let thier kids know that they have the authority to revoke thier privacy. I have so much that I could say, but the main issues with todays teens and young adults is separation from a spirit filled life. I know right now the masses are probably saying, "here we go again, a righteous than though holy roller". Think about it. A moral conscience governs a persons'actions. Ther is no morality without a spiritual mind via the Word.

I was sorry to see this program (on teenage use of the internet) ignore what I see as the major problem. On the internet, people select those who agree with them or encourage them in the beliefs they hold. When those beliefs are immature, self-destructive, anti-social, or otherwise undesirable, their internet contacts support them in those beliefs. Contacts who do not support them either disconnect or the user blocks them.
Yet, the role of parents is to help teens see when their beliefs are immature, self-destructive, anti-social, or otherwise harmful to the teen. Parents are supposed to disagree with teens and to counsel and advise teens on how to grow and develop into mature and functioning adults.
Coming to rely on the internet for a place of self expression rather than the home means the teen is listening to and receiving advice from people who have no long-term interest in his or her future development rather than being advised by parents who are older than the teen and are more concerned about the teens future than anyone else in the world.
That, I feel, is the main danger...not lurking predators and such.

Hunting for witches. Computerphobes blaming the beige box for bad parenting, the promotion of privilege, self-absorption, entitlement, and allowing children access to hypersexualized media. Nothing in that program required a computer. Nothing in that program didn't happen to teens before the 90s. No one gave a flying fig about social bullying when I was in high school, but call it "cyber-bullying" and suddenly everyone's concerned.
Teenage girls behaving like whores isn't the fault of the Internet. Its the fault of the media marketing sex to children, and parents allowing it.

I definably feel that what we are looking at is more like a communication gap than a generational gap. it is poor parenting that is driving children to find other sources of support and acceptance. our society has become more and more materialistic and because of this both parents are forced to be in the work place in order to "keep up." they are not as aware of their children's lives and needs, and don't have the energy to be as involved as needed when they come home from work. we are allowing TV, movies, music, and the internet to raise our kids for us. why are we surprised at the result? good parenting takes energy. because in many cases both parents work they also do not feel as much ownership or right to inquire and "be in their kids business" regarding their choices and activities because they aren't investing the time. therefore they hesitate at times. individualism is also taking western society by storm which makes parents feel they do not have a right to be a parent to their children and set limits and rules. i work as a Chaplain/therapist at a private secondary boarding academy and have asked students if they wished their parents would not give them some of the choices they do. i was interested that the majority said that indeed they wished their parents wouldn't give them some of the choices that they do. PTO mom...what would you expect to happen at a rock concert? have you listened to some of the music out there today? read the lyrics? you never should have let your son attend in the first place. my comments relate to what i feel is a general societal trend. not every situation is the same.

thank you,
Jeremy Hall M.A. LLP


Having just watched "Growing Up Online", I can only think of one observation to make on the subject which is that parents should practice the art of communication with their children in regards to their everyday lives. I don't believe that "demanding" your child's on line passwords will get you the results you are looking for and if anything, by keeping a constant "big brother" attitude, you may very likely stand to build a very large wedge between you and your children.

I recall sitting in the audience of my neighborhood's sponsored presentation on internet predators and what to watch out for. The whole discussion revolved around how to spy on your kids and what secret programs you could install in your kids computers in order to follow their on line where-abouts. All the time, never once did the professionals who gave the presentation say anything about actually sitting down and openly talking with your kids. The discussion was only how dangerous the internet was and never any good points like how kids can developing and build their varied creativity, by using the many on line sources.

As a local board of education member, I always try to think out of the box and reflect back to my own school years. On this subject I think "what would I have done with the information available over the net today"? Who knows what that answer would be, but one thing is for certain: the possibilities for opportunities are boundless. Parent/child communication also plays a key role in these opportunities but being a "password bully" will not get you there.

I thought it was a good story. All three of my children use myspace and I don’t have the passwords to the accounts. What I did instead was made my own myspace account and added them as my friend. At any time I can see who there friends are and what they post. At the same time they still feel as if they have some privacy. After being on myspace for almost a year all of my children’s friends have asked me to be a friend of theirs. Now I watch all their pages. If there is someone I feel they shouldn’t be talking to or have on there friends list I message that person and let them know That I watch this page. They are gone within day. My theory is “ Don’t keep your kids from having a party, make sure it’s a party you approve of”. They dont even know I still check their pages, all they know is I dont have their passwords.

Technology has not changed mankind; from sanskrit to the internet, from spears to the atom bombs, people are the same as they were thousands of years ago. Love and hate, war and peace, truth and lies, live and die. Dont try and complicate it.

Thank God for Rose Popora, the English teacher fighting the good fight, and may Steve Mahan, the history teacher who advocates shortcuts and cheating, be soon unemployed.
I am a full-time accounting teacher at a community college, after a 30 year career as a CPA. Accounting concepts haven't changed much in 500 years, and neither has the integrity that should accompany financial reporting. In this post-Enron world, we constantly discuss ethics and honesty in our classes, explaining that the path to a successful career and life over the next 60 years of their lives is based on hard work, honesty and professionalism, as Rose Popora advocates. No, Teacher Mahan, we should not advocate that learning Romeo and Juliet from Sparknotes in 5 minutes is the way to go. There is beauty and satisfaction that comes from a 2 hour effort to understand the words on a printed page.

If something happened to our kid, would the FBI or osmeone have access to passwords or be able to log into an account?

i think you should put it on MTV or another TV network. so the kids will know wha they might be getting into.

I felt a great deal of the so-called web generation was completely ignored. The report focussed on the students who use Sparknotes instead of reading their assignments, who search message boards promoting unhealthy lifestyles, who post disasterous videos on Youtube, and who pull in to their internet world so completely they almost lose touch with reality.
There was never a focus on the people who have grown up online and are now adults, able to speak intelligently and with "the wisdom of hindsight." That is the generation that pioneered growing up online; the generation that, for the first time, faced the dangers of online predators and all manner of material parents would never have allowed their children to be exposed to. The kids growing up with the internet now are aware of those things, far more than the parents and the report give them credit for. The father of Jessica "Autumn Edows" said it best when he pointed out that you will find whatever you seek on the internet. If you're looking for trouble, that's what you'll find. If all you're looking for is a medium for self-expression, then it's at your fingertips.
Parents need to be informed about the internet (all of it, not just the dangers) and encourage open and free communication between parent and child. If the child feels they can talk to their parents about anything, they don't feel as much need to have secret internet lives.
Furthermore, the idea that kids are the only naive people on the internet is wishful thinking, when millions of dollars a year are scammed from adults who willingly give out their personal information to strangers looking to take their money. Identity theft is also a growing problem because adults assume the information they are putting on the internet is secure (case in point, your name and email address is required to post a comment to this thread). Clearly, if people are going to be worried, then children are not the only ones to be worried about.

Hello,

what the hell did the Myspace author say? "we have to think of teenagers as Participants and not as victims," and, "children that are victim's of sexual Predators, go out looking for it" Wow, she believes the victim is to be blamed rather then adult that seeks sexual pleasure from minors. I wish Frontline producers could be sensitive to victims rather then protecting sex offenders.

After watching "Growing Up Online" some of the things that were said really affected me.
Firstly the mother that posted the email to all the parents about what the kids did going to the rock concert, I agree with the parent that said what do you expect. If you allow your teenager to go to a rock concert on the skytrain with a bunch of other kids thats exactly whats going to happen. They are teenagers after all.
Secondly I identified with the man that lost his son to suicide from bullying. This is a very serious matter in our school system and on the internet. Children and young adults in this day are so cruel, if only they realized the damage that they do to these children they bully. One year ago my teenage son also attenpted suicide by hanging, they told me at the hospital that I found him just in time. It is not something I would wish on any parent, believe me. He was being bullied terribly at school. The funny thing is that after he was released from hospital after two months in an adolscent psychiatric ward the kids at school are now very nice to him, and he has made some good friends. He received a card at the hospital signed by many of the kids that he went to school with. It's almost like they feel guilty for what almost happened. Why can't they realize this before things like this happen, you hear stories of children that do horrible things all because of being bullied. This is an issue that needs to be addressed.

This show truly shocked me. I could not believe the total ignorance of technology on the part of the parents and other authority figures in the piece. I am a baby boomer who has been using computers for business and social interactions since 1978. (What generation do people think INVENTED the personal computer?!) We were using the internet before there was a world-wide web, and I know many boomers whose interpersonal skills were dulled by preference for communicating via instant messaging -- which technology company employees have been using since the mid-1980's.

Children, especially teenagers, will ALWAYS look for ways to communicate with each other that exclude their parents. It's how we separate and develop as individuals outside our family groups. This does not mean that parents are absolved from the responsibility to protect their children because it's hard to understand them. Any parent today who can't figure out a way to view their kid's MySpace and Facebook pages (with or without being friended) is beyond irresponsible. They might as well hand over their houses, cars, and bank accounts to the kids and tell them to bring themselves up. How lazy and pathetic can you get?

Here's some ideas for parents.

1. Block the websites you do not want you kids to visit. Become the Admistrator of your home computer.

2. Do not buy a computer for a childs use. We used to go the library to study, remember the Public Library?

3. Have Family night, turn off the TV and computers and sit and talk, read out loud to one another or listen to the RADIO.......remember the radio??

I found that this Frontline program just gave up and gave in to what the kids want. Most of the parents shown did not even try to stand up to thier kids. But that's Frontline for you.......always showing Liberals that do not want to take responisility for their mistakes. Parents put your foot down with your kids and take back the control of your own home.

Good Luck!

Simply the form of these comments demonstrates one aspect of the new generation gap:

Complete sentences (mostly)
Correct spelling and grammar (mostly)
Complicated and nuanced thoughts and opinions (m)
Respect and civility (m)

if u dont lik wat i say ur a moron go %$^&# %^&*%@@ ^&#@

I just finished watching the documentary and was really disappointed with how completely off the mark it was on so many points, and, after all was said and done, nothing of any substance was even remotely presented. It was doubly disappointing because all of this mildly hysterical, white-bread suberban luddite panic was brought to "viewers like you" through the tremendous resource of Frontline and its relatively audible voice in the white noise of the media stream.

The kids were great. The adults were a complete waist of air time. I could have easily watched an hour of kids and their wisdom. They were informative, frank, calm, insightful about their peers, and technologically astute. They were far far more perceptive about Growing Up on the Internet than any of the adults who came on the screen only to dither their way through really important issues concerning the web, its inhabitants, and the stunning paradigm shift it is producing around the globe.

Evan was the worst and, sadly, so typical of all the parents and experts who spoke in strings of euphemisms that even an average 5th grader could see through. Every time she would appear in her house and begin to speak, I could not help but to sense the immense physical space, social space, and cyber space between her and the minorities who were merely present in the documentary as token symbols of the democratized space of the Internet. It is individuals like her who create a kind of quotidian, low level hysteria about kids' access to technologies that give them real power to transform their lives and and to actually participate in meaningful ways beyond the dead, consensus culture of adulthood.

This documentary was such a missed opportunity to address this profound paradigm shift that the Web has produced. Please, Frontline, don't let this crew loose with your resources on future documentaries.

While I agree that the media has overplayed the online predator scare (I loathe the Dateline stings or any sting operation for that matter), I feel that we should not downplay the issue of cyber-bullying. It is a major problem that should not be ignored.

Bullying at school is an age old problem. Sometimes it leads to horrible outcomes... nothing is worse for an adolescent boy than to be constantly harassed and subjected to the f*g or gay label. For girls, being excluded and/or labeled a sl*t can be devastating.

Cyber-bullying is DIFFERENT in that: a) it provides a wider audience for the bully, and therefore more attention; which is related to b) it encourages "piling on" by others who might not do so in person; and c) it is slander, which is illegal.

Being bullied through name-calling at school is difficult enough; seeing it published on popular web sites must be really intimidating and humiliating.

One issue the program didn't address is when students publish a social networking site "personal" page about a teacher (that appears to have been authored by the teacher). Often these fake pages contain some alleged "skeleton in the closet" about the teacher. Teachers have lost jobs over such pages; others have had to hire attorneys to subpoena the login info from the site in order to have the page removed.

A couple of yrs ago, two of my former students posted a fake page about me on MySpace. Fortunately, these were students with whom I had developed a strong bond. The page was done as a friendly joke, was in good taste, and was their way of saying thanks for being there for them. However, a parent came upon it, didn't get the joke, contacted my principal, and it became a big deal before the dust finally settled.

I can't emphasize enough how important it is to educate kids about the ramifications of publishing articles, pages, or comments that are derogatory, inflammatory, and/or threatening, be it online or in print. Impersonating another in an attempt to damage his or her reputation is not a harmless prank. The failure to educate kids about these issues is doing them a disservice.

Wow, That was sad. I feel for the parents of that kid. I was pretty naive when I first joined myspace and I've had some weird stuff happen to me but I just shrug it off.

I can imagine what it's like for a teenager though. Everything is a big deal when you're a kid.

Personally, I don't find death fascinatingly. Whats on the "other side" has crossed my mind but I would like to hang out on earth as long as possible.

John seems like a strong guy. I don't think you ever get over you're kid committing suicide but I do hope he is able to move on and have some kind of peace of mind eventually. (K)

Would you bring home a new sports car and leave the keys on the counter and encourage your children to go anywhere and do anything they want with the car? You have to think of the family PC in a similar light. The child of the PTO Mom who was arrogantly playing video games, talking on their cell etc -- I'm thinking Mom and Dad are footing the bill for all of THAT technology, too. I could hardly believe that the parents of "Autumn" made her "delete the files" ... I was waiting for her to say they removed the computer from her room. Sometime, you need to pull the plug, take control and discover that your children will not only speak to you but maybe even respect you. Just like all of the nuances of getting your driver's license (learner's permit/licenses with limits on how many passengers etc.) there should be generally accepted milestones for how old a child should be before they can a) have a cell phone b) have texting cability c) have an instant message or email account. d)have a facebook or myspace account. There is a huge difference in how a 12 or 13-year-old will handle online bullying and a 16 or 17-year old. The bottomline is that witholding/limiting Internet access/cell phones etc. will NOT keep your child from getting into a good college or mean they will be a social outcast. As I keep reminding my 12 and 13-year-old: people will say things to you online that they would never say to your face in your own living room. There is also this device called a landline: trust me, your friends will eventually learn how to contact you that way.

In a few years the Army will run out of young Latinos and start drafting these kids.
This generation is ideal material: vain, hive-minded, and oblivious to life outside suburbia.
Then they can walk around with $800 cell phones in their helmets crying about that flak jacket mom failed to buy while they search and destroy Arab kids who've never seen a Wii.
MyFace and MeBook are the new state religion.
Obey.

First of all, this was a great program and I really enjoyed it. Secondly, I think what may have happened over the past several years is that the Internet grew up quickly and parents were either ignorant to that fact or did not see it as something to invest their own knowledge in.

I'm glad that there was an emphasis on parents getting involved and maintaining a grip on the technology as well as adapting to the culture and learning their children at the same time.

What is at stake is children losing their identity to the Internet and relying too heavily on what it can do for them.

I think the Myspace author was well within her right to say that these children are participants as much as they are victims. So many times the news publishes a story about some 12-year-old who falls victim to a myspace predator. It's horrible, and I won't begin to deny that, but what is never mentioned is that this child had to lie about his or her age to get a myspace page in the first place. While it is easy to lie about your age on the internet, it's still not right. Children are knowingly violating terms and conditions contracts to gain access to something that they are warned is not for them. Parents who demand the passwords for their children's myspace or facebook pages should first look into the site and see if it is appropriate for their children in the first place. If parents are okay about their kids lying about their age, then they should have no complaint about what they gain access to by doing so.

I find it interesting that for some people there is still this idea of a generation gap. At 37 I can honestly say that the current generation of young people is more like my generation than mine was to my parents, and the next generation will be more like this one than to mine. The generation gap is shrinking, not growing. We consume much of the same media, technologies, art, games, and ideas. Conversing with a person 20 years younger than me is really no less difficult than conversing with someone my own age.

It's true there is an experience gap; an older person is much more likely to find youth culture boring and undeveloped, but still meaningful and easily understood. People will always prefer the company of others their own age simply for the level of maturity, but it's ridiculous this idea that culture somehow becomes invisible to us as we get older.

For those who experience a gap in understanding, I think it has less to do with age/generation than it does a general lack of interest in adopting and accepting new ideas and new ways of communicating.

My son is 20 months old. My husband and I have already started discussing how/when/how much technology will enter his life, and how we will manage it. Well, he watches a DVD player, (Clifford or Curious George) or a video player (The Wiggles or Frog and Toad). That is it. The rest of his time is spent playing with real toys, other children, and ME. I know children his age who already know every single character on the ADD-"Sesame Street", (and all those other kids' shows on all those kids' channels (and by the way, why are there so many kids' shows on at bedtime???)), which means they are also watching all the commercials, too), recognize the golden arches of McDonalds because they eat there several times a week, and already play video and computer games . I am sometimes left breathless at the thought of my awesome responsibility to raise this boy to manhood to the best of my ability, knowing that there may be times when this person will look at me with hardened eyes, because I will not allow him to make mistakes that don't need to be made.

No one said this was going to be easy.

I hope parents who watched the Frontline show can maintain their equilibrium and know that with or without the WWW, they are still the stewards of their children's voyage into adulthood and need to maintain a steady course, no matter how stormy things get. And the storms always blow over.

I wish the online addictive dimension and potential had been explored. Some of the individuals profiled struck me as genuinely addicted, and surely support groups and those in recovery could have been identified and interviewed. I feel for the parents especially, however. Our lives are all too complicated now, with too many distractions and things to do, see, etc. I also worry that in this spiritually illiterate and non-observant society, people are not getting the moral guidelines they once did in youth. We need a Second Constitutional Convention and a complete overhaul of the tax codes to restore the egalitarian society our founders envisioned, to simplify our lives, and to revitalize our families and communities. Sincerely, Paul Corrao

What I think parents should become aware of is key loggers.Rather than having to ask their children for the passwords. The key logger automatically logs every key that has been pressed on the keyboard while the computer is on.The key logger is a hidden program so teens such as myself would never know they are running.
But the parent can open the information witch has been recording by pressing a series of keys at once. Such as CRTL+ ALT+ DELETE opens Windows task manager.
Theres a program demo witch records for a half an hour key logs screen shots and I.M conversations witch can be found Download.com software "Spybuddy"(Being the name of the program you wish to look up.)
Now as a teen as the age of 18 myself. I would not take kindly to my parents doing this to me. But in actuality I am the one who monitors them :P
So watch it parents!Because you might be the one who is being monitored.
But this raises a lot of speculation on weather or not that crossing the bounds of personal privacy is O.K.
This I am going to leave up to the parents if it's "O.K" or not.

P.S The girl who is bulimic.
Please don't be.I think you are f***ing
gorgeous the way you are,And would date you in a second.
And it might be a little bad writing this in a forum about predators witch I think are sick F***s!
But feel free to add me on Myspace AD+KD@yahoo.com ( The irony right :P?)

Well just thought I'd let you parents out there whats up.
Hope my information has helped you.

Kyle, Domingo.

As a teacher/media specialist/librarian, I thought the story was very well done.

I wish the aspect of internet use with younger elementary age children would have been covered more.

I just finished watching GROWING UP ONLINE. The main problem with the FaceBook/MySpace phenomenon is that the participants don't seem to realize that ANYthing posted on the net is liable to come back and bite them where they sit. Photos of kids (and that's what they are, KIDS) acting badly might resurface down the line. Their future employment, scholastic and social endeavours might be sorely compromised.
In the dark days before the Internet I remember sitting in high school algebra, while some hodaddy surfer-dude ranted on about being a a party where his buddies had to haul him out to his car while he was "barfing viciously". A couple of weeks later the same dude bragged about "going all the way" with a girl, while she sat there (in the same classroom!) totally humiliated.
Human nature being what it is, this sort of trash talk probably appears on various "Me So Cool!" websites regular as 15 minutes past whenever.
Teenage brains might be techno-smart, but they're immature and not fully developed into caring responsible and empathetically adult personalities.
Having virtual "online friends" does NOT really help in learning how to cope with face to face encounters with REAL people. The isolation in front of the computer gives a false sense of security. Take it from one who has been cyber-mugged, the Internet is an electronic world wide jungle.

great program, the young man who said he hasn't read a book in years,just go to "sparknotes" that blew me away thats just not right...

All these postings are very interesting, perhaps even more so than the actual Frontline story. However, missing from the dialogue is the reality that at least on this issue, we cannot be islands. We absolutely must assume responsibility for not only teaching our kids the "smarts" they need to navigate the cyberworld, but we must also evangelize the need to keep THEIR FRIENDS safe too.

What a concept! And this truly requires a shift for parents in our competitive world: that the only way for me to win in my battle to keep my daughter safe, I must make sure, my neighbors, my friends and my family are as aware, as educated and as motivated to keep their kids safe too.

This I must do.

Monica O'Reilly

I think the program was very true to what is really happening with us teens and the internet, but like most of them said its just for fun. These websites (such as facebook, Myspace, Bebo Etc.) for most of us is just a place to socialize with friends and meet new ones.
Most of us know that if someone you dont know well asks you for personal information to aviod them (Duhh!!). Parents shouldn't be worried about their kids roaming the websites if they know they taught them what they should and shouldn't do there. As someone said "You cant blame the website blame your kids"
To that mom; I think it a thing of trust with your son. Asking and knowing that he will tell you the truth, and knowing that he's isn't doing anything wrong on these websites.

By: Mari
SE Washington,DC

The PTO mom broke the Cardinal rule of Parenting-Trust! I wouldn't tell her a thing if she was my parent either. I'm well into my 40's raising 2 children of my own- I do have -Trust and communication! You can't be the Stalker-Police and give them notice, of course they will be on Guard at all times. I happen to have both my children's passwords- we have trust. I don't go on their accounts, I don't stalk them, I have other ways. I talk with them , they know the dangers on the computer, as well as out in the streets. I suggest if she is upset about the concert- for the love of God and Country- she best lock her kids in the house,and NEVER SEND THEM TO ANY COLLEGE IN AMERICA!!! If she thought that was an abuse of alcohol???????????? With this world in the shape it's in, she really should of been thankful all her son was doing was drinking. Her family seems very nice. Want what you have- don't have what you want! Salma...

There have always been displaced youth and always will be. Teens and tweens who don't get along with their parents and search out others who will "accept" them. There have also always been clueless parents, those too involved in work or in running school organizations and sports to see what's going on in their own houses. None of this is new, just higher tech. Parents are so permissive now that they allow their kids to go online with no supervision and when they request a password and are told "NO", they just accept it, apparently not realizing that they are in charge and can unplug the computer at any time.

There have always been cheaters, as well. Kids who won't read the assigned book and rely on study guides (Cliff's Notes, in my day). Back then, you couldn't get a decent grade relying on such materials, but it seems that may not be the case at Chatham High particularly with Mr. Maher,the social studies teacher who is single-handedly redefining cheating (it IS cheating, by the way) and seems to be encouraging it. My high-school aged daughter would be pulled out of his class immediately. In my opinion, he's more of a problem than these immature kids who can't seem to form real relationships with actual human beings.

By the way, neither of my kids, ages 13 and 15 are on any social networks and don't chat online, although we own a computer. They seem to be perfectly happy socializing with real people. And yes, I know what they're doing. I don't hesitate to inquire about their activites, fearing they won't "like me". That's what a truly involved parent (and member of the PTO) does.

I can't believe that these parents and the Program almost totally ignored the concept of NOT allowing your child access to the Internet. My kids are not allowed to go to their friends houses and use the computer. Feel good parents that aren't in control of their home. That boy who wouldn't talk to his mother. I'm sure she is paying for his college and his computer anyway. I would tell him to pack his bags! Where was his Dad? My kids have never owned a video game. I taught them that reading is more fun. I can't imagine giving my 12 year old unsupervised access. I really lost some respect for the program, they never really asked why don't you take the computer away. These are the same parents who don't know what their child is doing with their time.

hello this frontline excert was a perfect way of letting parents know what goes on in their rooms according to internet access. mypsace and facebook along wt other social websites create danger for kids. along with sex offenders its just another window opened to them to slip in your kids room. parents should know all the dangers of the web and along with their kids lives as well. they must understand and prevent, but for those kids who fake ages and all that should be aware of what they are getting themselves into

I don't understand why some kids would want to hide crap from their parents. The way I see it is that your parents are the only people who are really going to stand by you in this crappy mixed up world and you should not hide stuff from them. But then again parents should not be so obsessed with their kids online life that kids feel like punching their parents in the face.

Fro example parents should not be reading their kids email everyday or sitting behind them while they type. Your kids are NOT doing anything wrong. If they were then they wouldn't be writting about it they would be out their doing it. Duh!

People need to trust their kids to make the right desicions. They might screw up sometimes but were KIDS you can't expect us to not make any mistakes.

Great movie btw. It gave me some ideas on how I talk to my parents about getting a myspace page or something.

-Brie (Age 12)

I thnk pernts shood b able to trust kids to know the right thing on tha internet and like not look at obscene stuff, and Thats the truth let ur kids have some leeway on da internet.

I thnk pernts shood b able to trust kids to know the right thing on tha internet and like not look at obscene stuff, and Thats the truth let ur kids have some leeway on da internet.

I thnk pernts shood b able to trust kids to know the right thing on tha internet and like not look at obscene stuff, and Thats the truth let ur kids have some leeway on da internet.

Hey Brie i agree wit most of the stuff u said but u know sometimes kids cant be trusted u just have 2 ask them wat tey doin online and put concequences if they lie then they will tell da truth ya know.

I think that parents should take charge of their kids by setting a time limit so that the kids dont sit by the computer all night and day.

The Movie was done ok I think that it should talk about more cell phone things because people can text now unlike the dinosaur ages (1995). I think that MySpace should be banned from everyone because it is dumb and there is no use for it.

Go Bill U rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GO BILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I agree with brie i think that kids should not hide stuff from their parents but the parents expect the kids to tell them every thing. but wtf we r kids and we rule. I also think that Myspace and facebook and all the sites like that so myspace and facebook should be deleted from every web page in the world!!!m

I think that u should have a drivers license to be able to go onto myspace because u have to be at least 16 to have a drivers license so they r more responsible.

so i liked this movie but i think the mom who's kids went to that thing and found out and e-mailed all mom&dads she should not have done that i think the kids DID not want them to now if they want them to know they we would have to talk to them about and that boy who killed him shelf the kids who said that stuff about him that was just plan mean if that was me everone would have know i know how he fells but i would not kill my self over it. like myspace people are going to say stuff about you and there is nothing you can other then block them that boy and his "friend" that was a bad choice

As a teenager who, sadly, uses Facebook, I felt this was an extremely informative documentary. I don't care what anyone says; the Internet perpetuates the behavior shown throughout the documentary. I have gotten in trouble before with my parents and it was only through their discipline that I realized how utterly unhealthy it was to be online so much during the day. I still struggle with it. It is an addiction, as bad as any other, perhaps overshadowing television addiction. That is somewhat more monitored by parents, but the real issue, I believe, is with the Internet. If anyone could deny after watching that documentary that something needs to be done, I certainly hope they don't have children. As for me, well, I'll be making drastic reduction in the time I spend online.

05/20/2008
Tonight I watched this segment of Growing Up Online. I was amazed at how people actually accepts the behavior of the teenagers in lieu of trying to talk and understand what is really going on and why they must spend so much time on the internet. I have a 13 year old son, who is allowed to have a My Space page. He denied having a My Space page, until recently a friend of mine who has a My Space page came across his name. So I told him to let me see his page. He was angry and scrolled through it really fast, so I told him to give me his log on and password. I checked it and I didn't like the way the teenagers posted their comments and acted. So he is not allowed to go on his page, and he will be taking it down. Then one day something made me check to see where he had been surfing. He is on the computer when he gets home from school and on the phone at the same time, so I checked and I noticed that he had been looking at unappropriate pages and discussing it on the phone with his friends. Needless to say he has been banned from using the computer. But my point is the cyber age does not help with parenting and it shouldn't be taken so lightly as the University of Berkley professor believes. It harms our children everyday when they participate online. It creates a dark side, a side of them that makes you sit back and wonder, "where have I gone wrong?" If we don't do something about this now more children will either kill themselves or be killed by someone. Or we will loose them into the infamous "Black Hole" forever.

this web site is so good for us teens and parents to know about people are so iggnorant about these things its not right to bully people and cause and say words to take thier lives


1 luv

i thought its was not help full at all since i watched the movie i made me a myspace tagged and facebook. i just think that people are too imtroure and that people are too cought up in the bad stuff thats just whta i think

Post a comment

Ground rules for posting comments:

  1. No profanity or personal attacks.
  2. Please comment on the subject of the blog post itself.
  3. If you do not follow these rules, we will remove your post. Keep it civil, folks!