“Growing Up Online” takes viewers inside the private worlds that kids are creating online, raising important questions about just how radically the Internet is transforming the experience of childhood. As more and more kids begin to grow up online, parents are finding themselves on the outside looking in, struggling to remain relevant and engaged in their kids’ lives.
The point is illustrated in the program by the story of Jessica Hunter, a shy and awkward girl who struggled to make friends at school. At age 14, she reinvented herself online as “Autumn Edows,” an alternative goth artist and model who posted provocative photos of herself on the Web and fast developed a cult following. News of Hunter’s growing fame as Autumn Edows reached her parents only by accident.
“I got a phone call, and the principal says one of the parents had seen disturbing photographs and material of Jessica,” her father tells Fronltine. “They were considered to be pornographic… I had no idea what she was doing on the Internet. That was a big surprise.”