Growing Up Online

Produced and Directed by: Rachel Dretzin and John Maggio
Written by: Rachel Dretzin
Edited by: R.A. Fedde
Associate Producer: Caitlin McNally
Camera: Tom Hurwitz
Original Music: Frank Ferucci
Additional editing: John Maggio

A generation with a radically different notion of privacy and personal space, today's adolescents are grappling with issues their parents never had to deal with: from cyber bullying to instant "Internet fame," to the specter of online sexual predators. FRONTLINE investigates the risks, realities, and misconceptions of teenage self-expression on the World Wide Web. Description: Jessica Hunter was a shy and awkward girl who struggled to make friends at school. Then, at age 14, she reinvented herself online as Autumn Edows, a goth artist and model. She posted provocative photos of herself on the Web and fast developed a cult following. "I just became this whole different person," Autumn tells FRONTLINE. "I didn't feel like myself, but I liked the fact that I didn't feel like myself. I felt like someone completely different. I felt like I was famous." News of Jessica'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 FRONTLINE. "I had no idea what she was doing on the Internet. That was a big surprise." In Growing Up Online, FRONTLINE takes viewers inside the very public private worlds that kids are creating online, raising important questions about how the Internet is transforming childhood. "The Internet and the digital world was something that belonged to adults, and now it's something that really is the province of teenagers, " says C.J. Pascoe, a postdoctoral scholar with the University of California, Berkeley's Digital Youth Research project. 

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