I was curious to see how Frontline would handle the issues surrounding teens and the Internet in their documentary “Growing Up Online” which aired last night. I was pleased to see that the producers chose an even approach. They didn’t try to scare parents, but they did make the point that children are growing up in a very different kind of world today, where their reality includes face to face and virtual worlds–both play a major role in how they socialize and identify.
Without being preachy, they got across the message that parents need to try to see this world from their kids’ point of view and not rush to judgment and action out of fear alone.
- One of the parents who was featured was too intent on acting out of fear and ended up alienating her children.
- Other featured parents were more open about how their children used the Internet, and, though filled with anxiety, were more open-minded. In the end they (with the exception of one family whose child, sadly, committed suicide) had much more healthy relationships with their kids.
The one critique I have is that the doc featured suburban kids for the most part. I would love to have seen the inclusion of inner city, even rural, families featured. Teens in those environments have different stresses and different issues to deal with everyday. These include poverty, lack of parental guidance in some instances, violence and lack of substantive activities and/or support at home and at school. Their relationships with, and use of, the Internet might differ as a result.
Realistically, I know that PBS was offering programming to their base viewership. As a result, the program was targeted at that group.
We invite you to go to the PBS site and watch and comment on the program All of the issues included in “Growing Up Online,” including social networking, cyberbullying, loss of privacy, online predators, identity creation and the like are worthy of much more open discussion by parents, teachers and other adults WITH kids.
I applaud the beginning of the conversation that this documentary offers. We at the LAMP can continue the conversation here in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn.
Thanks for checking in,
Education Director, The LAMP