Frontline: Growing Up Online

I’m sitting in a hotel room in New Haven, trying to finish an article for First Monday, but then I received a call from my wife suggesting I turn on PBS, as Frontline is airing an amazing report on “Growing Up Online.” It is a thoughtful treatment of the topic that, in their words, “takes viewers inside the very public private worlds that kids are creating online, raising important questions about how the Internet is transforming childhood.”

The show’s website has some nice supporting material, including a discussion of how many young Web users are increasingly putting their private lives online and in public view. I particularly appreciate danah boyd’s perspective (who is interviewed throughout the report):

Privacy is not about just me. Privacy is about control of audience. It’s about being able to say, “I want to hang out with these people. These are the people that I trust; this is the audience to hear my speech that I care about, the audience that I trust to tell secrets to.” That’s what privacy is. And so even though they’re in public in some sense, they want this privacy. They want a control over their audience.

Perhaps I’m more sensitive to a different set of issues now that I’m a parent, but I was particularly moved by the show’s discussion of how anorexia is played out online, and the tragic suicide of young Ryan Halligan.

You can watch the report online here.

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