Frontline will be airing a fairly balanced documentary on social network sites and their impact on social and familial culture. Also discussed, briefly, is the lasting impact of comments or images posted online for economic and educational opportunities. The sites discussed are primarily facebook and myspace but also include brief references to youtube. Issues addressed are the freedom and positive social aspects of such sites for marginalized and mainstream youth as well as the negative aspects of such sites including encouraging suicidal ideation, bullying, and disordered eating that already exist outside of cyberspace.
It is surprisingly devoid, and welcomingly so, of the usual scare tactics and issues of innocence that one would get from the same report on local news or dateline. Overall, Growing Up Online starts to unpack some of the questions I posed in both the livejournal and myspace comments recently on the blog. Social networking sites are definitely a phenomena in and of themselves and it is good to see academics turning a critical eye on them that examine the pros and the cons and question their long term impact. I would have liked to see more on how these venues are changing the ways employers, recruiters, lenders, etc. are interacting with one another or making decisions as this is equal relevant and carries with it both minor and serious ethical issues.
The documentary will play from now until February on Public broadcasting. You can also watch it online, click link on right hand corner to load.
The documentary also mentions a book, Myspace Unraveled, that seemed much more academic and engaging in the documentary than on its website. On the documentary, co-author Ann Coullier speaks about the creation of social networks (in the traditional social science sense) through online social networking and its impact on social grouping and social group functioning. The book on the other hand, seems to target parents in the typical “beware of predators at myspace” fashion. You can check the book out or order it: here.