Growing Up Online
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Press Reaction

Felicia Lee, The New York Times

If 21st-century parenthood is not scary enough, "Growing Up Online" ... uses ... real-life stories to ask an increasingly important question: What does it mean to be part of the first generation coming of age steeped in a virtual world seemingly outside parental control?

Joanna Weiss, The Boston Globe

...the Frontline documentary that airs tonight, starts out sounding alarmist, as well as a few years late. ...

In its most useful moments, "Growing Up Online" tries to parse the differences between then and now, and actually does a fair amount of debunking: ... When one Goth girl starts posting provocative pictures online under a pseudonym, her white-bread parents flip out at first. But they eventually come to see her Web doings as a benign form of escapism. The relationship is saved.

That's a far more provocative, nuanced way to look at the Internet, and it rings more true. ...

Matt Roush, TV Guide

... an unsettling piece of cultural anthropology ...

Alex Strachan, Canwest News Service

... Growing Up Online isn't just an exercise in parental hand-wringing. It's interested in the big questions -- why is this happening, and what does it mean? How dramatically is the Internet changing the experience of childhood? ...

Brian Lowry, Daily Variety

Given the alarmist hysteria that surrounds Internet predators -- a TV news staple used to scare parents into watching -- "Frontline" brings welcome restraint to "Growing Up Online." ...

"Frontline" offers no simple solutions here, but producers Rachel Dretzin and John Maggio certainly frame the questions intelligently and provocatively.

Ted Cox, Chicago Daily Herald

... [M]ust-see TV for all parents. ... I guarantee it will startle with what it finds kids are doing online and just how vast the divide is between how kids and adults use the Internet. ...

What makes this documentary so great is how matter-of-fact and even-handed it is. ...

Try watching "Growing up Online" together [with your kids]. It's sure to open new topics and lines of communication -- even if your kids are more comfortable texting than they are talking.

Alan Sepinwall, The Newark Star-Ledger (N.J.)

... the "Frontline" franchise has never been interested in promoting panic at the expense of good reporting, and "Growing Up Online" quickly establishes itself as an even-handed look at the generation gap between teenagers who have never known life without e-mail and their parents who are all-thumbs with text messaging.

Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

... For in-the-know parents, some of this may not be a news flash, but "Frontline" puts it all together in an hour of TV worth seeing. Even the most Internet-savvy adults may be surprised at some aspects of the report. ...

"Growing up Online" offers a sober snapshot of online culture. The program doesn't attempt to terrify viewers, but it is an eye-opener.

Ellen Page, The Philadelphia Daily News

... I expect more from "Frontline" than a litany of cautionary tales.

Are kids who've grown up on computers learning and behaving differently? Are the effects permanent? Where's the research?

Without some of that, "Growing Up Online" feels like little more than a primer for particularly clueless parents.

Joanne Ostrow, The Denver Post

... [A]n overblown sociology lesson ... Some kids live online as much as they live in the nonvirtual world. Some assuredly get into trouble. But the alarm expressed by some of those interviewed here seems excessive.

Charlie McCollum, The San Jose Mercury News

One show not to miss tonight: PBS's "Frontline" presents a new documentary that takes a thoughtful and unhysterical look at kids and the online world. "Growing Up Online" raises provocative questions about whether the cruelties of adolescence have moved to a new, more intrusive dimension. But it handles the issue with restraint and intelligence.

Mike Miliard, The Boston Phoenix

The Internet can be terrifying. For parents who don't know what goes on online, and those who do but can't control what their kids do there, the baleful tone of the Frontline special "Growing Up Online" is sure to be scary. ...

Yes, it's disturbing to think that one in seven kids is solicited online. And it's depressing to meet the mother who keeps her kids' Facebook passwords in a sealed envelope so she can access their account should anything ever happen to them.

But when you hear Frontline intoning gravely that the Internet's ubiquity "punctured the sense of safety" in one small town, it's also worth remembering that, for all the danger inherent in it, the opportunities the Web affords — for education, for communication, for self-actualization — are far more profound.

Maureen Ryan, The Chicago Tribune

The documentary does stray a bit toward hysteria, especially in an interview with one New Jersey mother, who is filmed looking up articles about online dangers -- on a computer. But for the most part, "Growing Up Online" skirts past hyperbole and thoughtfully examines the dangers that the online realm poses for young people. ...

Though it makes you want to throw your modem in the trash -- or perhaps raise your children in a cave without WiFi -- "Growing Up Online" isn't a clumsy condemnation of all things online.

Kevin McDonough, United Features Syndicate

"Frontline" spends a thoughtful hour on a subject worthy of months of discussion. "Growing Up Online" meditates on the radical changes in youth culture, education and family life since the arrival of the Internet in the mid-1990s. ...

John Doyle, The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada)

Frontline: Growing Up Online is a terrific exploration of the reality and misconceptions of teenage self-expression on the Internet. It's filled with extraordinary vignettes.

Heather Havrilesky,

This detailed and harrowing report not only outlines the widening gap between parents' and kids' perceptions of online interactions, but it highlights the misgivings, disappointments and hopes of both sides.

Dorothy Rabinowtiz, The Wall Street Journal

When it comes to revealing what kids get up to on the Internet, there are no great surprises in "Growing Up Online." ... It's disturbing nonetheless to hear kids describe their lives online, and to see in cumulative detail how completely they have been sucked in to a world of exposure that bends young minds in ways unimaginable to earlier generations.

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posted january 22, 2008

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