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Digital Drama: Growing Up in the Age of Facebook

The rise of social media and mobile technology has forever altered the social landscape teenagers navigate. It hasn’t necessarily made kids meaner, or bullying more prevalent, but it has changed how they learn skills like empathy, introduced new ideas about privacy, and pushed them to cultivate online personas that are sometimes brasher than their real-world selves. Social media also give teenagers the chance to connect to people they might not otherwise meet—an especial boon for some gay kids and other minorities. Research shows that as teenagers figure out how to deal with online drama, they’re often reluctant to turn to parents and teachers, who may not necessarily know how to help them. Studies also show that girls and boys spend time differently online, with distinct benefits and risks. This panel will explore how the Facebook generation differs from the ones that come before it, and how parents, educators, and policy makers can help, rather than hinder, their development.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. How has social media and mobile technology changed how kids treat each other—what are the opportunities, and what are the potential pitfalls?
  2. How do boys and girls use social media differently, and what are the implications?
  3. How do kids learn empathy, and does spending a lot of time online affect this aspect of their development?
  4. What are the effects of creating an online persona on youth, good and bad?
  5. How much privacy protection do teenagers need online, and what kinds of laws and policies make the most sense in this arena?



Emily Bazelon, Senior Editor,

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