Fear of online predators has become a major concern for parents and teachers. “Growing Up Online” examines the findings of a major government report about the solicitation of kids online. The program also discusses the use of social networking sites where, for example, kids with eating disorders share tips about staying thin, and depressed kids share information about the best ways to commit suicide. “Growing Up Online” also spotlights the phenomenon of “cyberbullying,” in which the taunts, insults and rumors once left at school now find their way on to the Internet.
“You have a generation faced with a society with fundamentally different properties, thanks to the Internet,” Danah Boyd, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, tells Frontline. “We can turn our backs and say, ‘This is bad’ or ‘We don’t want a world like this.’ It’s not going away. So instead of saying that this is terrible, instead of saying, ‘Stop MySpace; stop Facebook; stop the Internet,’ it’s a question for us of how we teach ourselves and our children to live in a society where these properties are fundamentally a way of life. This is public life today.”
As Frontline’s “Growing Up Online” illustrates, the Internet plays a major influence on today’s youth in an often troubling manner, but there is another threat lurking in the streets and in our schools – the danger of gangs. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, there are at least 750,000 gang members in the United States, with more than 15,000 of them in Georgia. GPB’s newest original production, Growing Up With Gangs, delves into the question of why children join gangs, what inspires them, and how cyberspace has expanded gang exposure and access. In addition, the program also examines the migration of gangs in Georgia from other parts of the country and what local and federal officials are doing to tackle the issue.