Free Technology For Teachers: Growing Up Online

I’ve heard about Frontline’s new documentary, “Growing Up Online,” tonight it is on PBS in my area for the first time. Here is my running diary and reaction to some of the show. You can watch the video online by clicking on the image on the left.

The show opens with a parent talking about how it is easier for him to connect to his child via email than in person. The child then discusses how he circumvents the parental controls on AOL. How many kids in your classes are capable of circumventing firewalls and filters? Probably more than you think.

The show then moves to a high school in Chatham, NJ where every teacher is using a Smartboard or LCD projector (I wish I had that at my school). The principal states how important it is to meet students where they are. Students multitask in all aspects of their lives so they should do the same at school. This is one of the best arguments for integrating technology.

9:15 Students discuss how important MySpace and Facebook are to their social lives. Students use social networking sites to plan social life. Some conflicts start online or are carried over from school to online or vice-versa. Are you seeing this in your school? I am.

9:17 Ann Collier states that teens today are far more comfortable sharing who they are online than in person. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

9:19- Jessica Hunter used Myspace to experiment with different identities. Reinvents herself as a Goth model named Autumn Meadows, her parents never knew. Jessica talks about how using Myspace made her feel like she was “famous.” Many students probably feel the same way Jessica does/ did before her parents took away her MySpace account.

9:25- Chatham, NJ parents (Mrs. Skinner, PTO president) speak about their number one concern of having her kids online, stalkers and predators. Very valid concern. MySpace has recently taken aggressive action to stop predatory behavior on the web.

9:29- Three high school girls say that they have been online since they were in second grade. Something to remember when planning lessons. Remember the teacher at the beginning of the program who said how important it was to meet students’ multitasking nature?

9:31- A number of students state how easy it is to recognize obvious predatory/ random requests and turn them down. A result of growing up online and being informed and taught to recognize scams online.

9:32- Ann Collier talks about the nature of most online solicitation.

9:37- Chatham, NJ PTO president discusses the email she sent out to all parents when she found out about drinking/ party videos and pictures posted on the internet. Her son has since closed himself from the family.

9:40 – Ryan Halligan’s father regrets putting a computer in his bedroom. Ryan was being bullied online and at school. Mr. Halligan logged on to his account after Ryan had committed suicide. Ryan was the victim of a ring of cyberbullies. Ryan’s mother makes a great point by saying that in the old days if you were bullied at school you had the safe haven of home. But because of cyberbullying that is not always true.

9:44- A girl from Ryan’s class makes a great point. Online people can be as tough and confrontational as they want from the safety of home. Fantastic point from a young source.

9:50- Dannah Boyd (Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society)- makes a great point. The answer is not to “stop MySpace” and social networking sites, but to teach students how to be good citizens online. How much of a role as teachers do we have in this process?

This is a program that every parent and teacher should watch with their children and students respectively. It will be an eye-opener for many parents and teachers. Watching the program with your children or students will give you their thoughts about online life. The bottom line- the Internet is an integral part of students’ lives, as teachers we need to acknowledge and plan for that fact.
Watch the program online by clicking the image above. It is broken into six chapters for easier viewing online. I plan to watch it again this week.


Thank You Readers for 14 Amazing Years!