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FRONTLINE: Generation Like

FRONTLINE: Generation Like

Civic Commons ideastream
on Feb 07, 2014

It's never easy to be a teenager—and now giant marketing companies are turning this search for identity into advertising gold. Do teens think they’re being used? Do they care?

Tune into the FRONTLINE special Generation Like on February 18 at 10 PM on PBS/WVIZ to explore these questions. Then continue the conversation right here anytime on February 19. We’re partnering with Your Teen Magazine for this forum with local parents, professionals, and teens to further discuss this complicated relationship.

This conversation will be moderated by Susan Borison, editor of Your Teen Magazine.

Our panelists for this conversation include:

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, MD - family physician, author, and speaker.

Hemanshu Nigam - online security expert.

Dr. Meenakshi Gigi Durham, Ph.D. - professor and author.

Jesse Weinberger - internet safety expert.

Dr. Trysa Shulman, Psy.D. - clinical psychologist. 

Moderators (1)

Participants (28) See All

What do you think?

Anonymous
on 2017-07-24T04:43:15+00:00
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Recent Activity

a f
a f
on May 18, 2014
"While i was not aware of how intergrated these social network companies are in our lives I am a..."
Brandon Eaton
on May 04, 2014
"It was interesting to see how much social networks really actually dominate our lives. Most..."
Rachel Halpert
on Apr 30, 2014
"I find it fascinating that our generation relies heavily on social media. The amount of likes..."
Sam Gross
on Apr 30, 2014
"I find it amazing to see how much our society is focussed on technology. Many kids in current..."
Camarie Howell
on Apr 28, 2014
"I think teenagers don't care they are being used as research because they market a lot of brands..."
Alex Mintz
on Apr 28, 2014
"I think that it is clear that this generations life completely revolves around technology. I..."
Casey P
on Apr 27, 2014
"The film “Generation Like”, focused on the relationship between technology and my generation. It..."
Ally Marks
on Apr 24, 2014
"It is obvious that our society, generation and world revolves are technology and the media. The..."
Boyan P.
on Apr 24, 2014
"Although technology is not an internalized part of my culture and upbringing, it is a reality..."
Anna Post
on Apr 24, 2014
"I think that this video definitely explores into the vast, behind the scenes industry of social..."
Daylen  C
on Mar 03, 2014
"I don't think that teens in my generation think that they are being used, and if they are I..."
Anita  Lekova
on Mar 02, 2014
"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that technology is dominating our world. However,..."
Emily T
on Mar 02, 2014
"I find it interesting that in this day and age everyone is so focused on technology. They are..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Feb 28, 2014
"Thanks, Shaina!  Do you ever struggle with that happy medium?  "
Andrew Samtoy
on Feb 27, 2014
"David -  Thanks for this!  What do you do when, for example, someone stops talking to you to..."
David Kaye
on Feb 27, 2014
"I am strongly oppossed to how teenagers can get absorbed by companies such as social media. I,..."
Shaina  Wolinsky
on Feb 27, 2014
"I think that it is quiet intersting becuase there are so many pros and cons to using technology...."
Dar'Jon Bentley
on Feb 26, 2014
"As a teen it is hard to not want to buy the new technology, but s teenagers we don't care at all...."
jennifer bullock
on Feb 26, 2014
"I just finished watching, thanks for this forum -  I am intrigued as along time teen advocate..."
Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 20, 2014
"Yes I think it's way different. When you were obsessed with the Beatles (for me it was Boy George..."
Vincent O'Keefe
on Feb 20, 2014
"I like how the Frontline show remains relatively objective, refusing to judge the teens'..."
Eca Taylor
on Feb 19, 2014
"I worry about technology and the huge time suck it has become, not just for teens but for aldults..."
Deborah Gilboa, MD
on Feb 19, 2014
"That is a great question Sue! In medicine we identify addiction as "continued use in spite of..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Feb 19, 2014
"I watched some of his videos on YouTube afterward; the apparent absence of parents is one..."
Andrew Samtoy
on Feb 19, 2014
"Is it different than teens obsessing over the Beatles, or Rudloph Valentino, getting all of the..."
Your Teen Media
on Feb 19, 2014
"I am a little stuck on RYOT. Check out the site. So great Taylor weighed in."
Your Teen Media
on Feb 19, 2014
"Another scenario that struck me as extreme was the girl who is obsessed with Hunger Games. Once..."
Deborah Gilboa, MD
on Feb 19, 2014
"In the same way we convince teens to change anything - by asking what their goals are. His goal..."
Deborah Gilboa, MD
on Feb 19, 2014
"What an incredibly cool app! Thank you Taylor!"
Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 19, 2014
"I agree Diana - and here's where the whole "the fish don't know they're in water" thing comes..."
a f
a f
on May 18, 2014 - 1:14 am

While i was not aware of how intergrated these social network companies are in our lives I am a little perplexed at the way this documentary presents them. It attempts to portray facebook and other social networks as these large "evil" corperations that will do anything to manipulate us(espically at the cost of our privacy) in return for a "quick" buck. However, the report also notes that the majority of these large companies were created by teen or individuals not far removed from thier teen years in an attempt to better the lives of the chronological peers, a strange dichotimty. Finnaly I leave with this intresting quote from Facebooks founder Zuckerburg "We don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services".

 
Brandon Eaton
on May 04, 2014 - 7:21 pm

It was interesting to see how much social networks really actually dominate our lives. Most people use it in their eveyrday lives. Back in my parents/ ggrandparents generation it was almost impossible to  become famous by your self without anyones help. In todays world all you actually need it an smart phone. Many people that are discovered today are found right off of social media. For example their is an girl on vine by the name Maliya she is an extramly talented singer. Well she decided to try out for american idol and of course she made it on the show. But she was getting lots of votes just by being known on vine and she had an appeal to her that viewrs really liked. She is only 16 years old and she ended up makeing it to the top 12 on american idol. If she wasnt on vine im not saying that she wouldnt have made it that far but being on there certinatly couldnt have hurt her. Social networks can be an huge oppurtunity to become famous. But the question we must ask our self is it more of an casualty then an oppurtunity?

 
Rachel Halpert
on Apr 30, 2014 - 4:05 pm

I find it fascinating that our generation relies heavily on social media. The amount of likes they get on a certain picture or status determines how popular they are. Rather than being recognized for something positive they have done for their community, people are being recognized by how many friends they have on facebook, and what their high score is on a popular computer game. Now a days, teens are gaining fame from posting provocative pictures, posting videos of them talking about their day, or for doing grotesc humor. Fame isn't hard to acheive when all your audience is looking for is the amount of likes and views you have. Although it is depressing to think our world is controlled by these factors, it is also amazing how well everything has adapted to this idea. Advertisers are able to gain business by using social media to promote their product. In a way, we are being brainwashed by these companies to buy their products based on what we do online. This smart technique has changed our world some would say for the better, while others may say for worse. 

 
Sam Gross
on Apr 30, 2014 - 9:29 am

I find it amazing to see how much our society is focussed on technology. Many kids in current times spend a lot of time on social network sites, trying to generate likes. These virtual likes are instant gratification. Everybody wants to be liked, and when people can like something you post, it is a way to aknowledge that your opinion or post speaks to them. I find it also amazing how marketing research is used to collect data on how to sell products. I find it is a very good idea, and some of the data they collect seems very complex, and is extremely useful.

 
Camarie Howell
on Apr 28, 2014 - 9:50 am

I think teenagers don't care they are being used as research because they market a lot of brands showing teens used them. Many teens follow trends what celebirties between (16-23 year olds) are wearing and doing. Once adults follow the whats going on with teens, the start to adopt some of the technology. Then teens move away from the trend and find something else. For example Facebook, it was started by a college student that made it for other college students which made it popular. Then high school and middle school students started using it.From there, adults wanted to be apart of the trend and they began using it. Now most teens moved away from Facebook to Twitter,Instagram and other teen friendly sites. Technology made a pathway for fame with many teens by taking pics or singing on Youtube. More teens rather have the fame than anything else. Social media has set it up easily for people to recieve their five minutes of fame whether they are talented or not. 

 
Alex Mintz
on Apr 28, 2014 - 8:26 am

I think that it is clear that this generations life completely revolves around technology. I think that we are so used to it by now, that we don't even realize how much we are using technology every day. Something I learned from this movie was how much goes into all of the "likes" in our world. Even from when I was in middle school and now the middle schoolers so much has changed. They have iphones and tons of things that I never had when I was 11. One thing that is interesting is that people will be more worried about taking pictures or tweeting about it rather than taking it all in while it is going on. I think that a big downside to all this tecnology comes with cyberbullying. I think that now kids would rather stay stuff online rather than to peoples faces. Even in school technology has become a huge aspect. Online textbooks, online assignments and other things show how much tecnology has taken over this generation. I think it is inevitable that our generation is completely obsessed with technoolgy, and I found this movie very interesting in the marketing and other information about technology that I didn't know. 

 
Casey P
on Apr 27, 2014 - 7:49 pm

The film “Generation Like”, focused on the relationship between technology and my generation. It is extremely interesting. The film gave me a better understanding about the relationship, and how it benefits the advertising market. I really liked how they compared my generation with the film, “The Hunger Games”. It showed how teenagers are trying to ‘survive’ in the social media world; that they are trying to get people to ‘like’ them in order to survive in social media. That shows how powerful technology is. It has lots of benefits for society, but at same time, it has lots of disadvantages, like teenagers competing against each other with the likes (retweets, followers, etc. as well) in social media. It’s hard to tell if it’s good for the generation, but it will be amongst us for a really long time. I think the film is fantastic. People should watch it to gain knowledge and a better understanding about the relationship between technology and teenagers, and how the advertising market uses that.

 
Ally Marks
on Apr 24, 2014 - 9:29 pm

It is obvious that our society, generation and world revolves are technology and the media. The media fuels are everyday situations and encounterments. In the gran scheme of things, all this technology that we have avaiable just proves how developed our country is. Yet, when taking a closer look, this technology is given to our generation is doses that are unproportional. From my perspective, technology has succumbed the lives of close to every teenager and there is no escape. We as teenagers, are so subcounscious of the digital world that we are living in and we allow for this digital world to be are "actual" world. 

 
Boyan P.
on Apr 24, 2014 - 9:24 pm

Although technology is not an internalized part of my culture and upbringing, it is a reality that I must live with and embrace (eventually) in order to be abel to communicate with people in the way that is becoming increasingly popular - social media. I am opposed to two people chatting, Snapping, Instagraming, Tweeting, etc., in place of face-to-face conversation, I still believe that there is much to learn in analyzing why and how these social media trends occur and what their implications are in the world in the short run and further down the road as well. As the documentary highlights, social media allow for a larger pool of contacts by widening the distance between those communicating, and it is easy to lose a personal connection and instead create a substitute of information and "likes" that fills that gap. The movie also opened my eyes to the ingenuity of marketing through social media, as I was previously unaware of the extent of analysis and planning that takes place behind the "likes." It is interesting that an individual's preferences and choices on their own do not matter to a great extent; however, if that person has an audience and enough people do the same in the same way and through the same medium, then a visionary entrepreneur can find a way to create value and market it for real money. The US and other parts of the western world are different in that they have this unique dynamic that is nowhere as prevalent as in other parts of the world; this was one more facet that I connected to culture while watching the movie. And while it may all be a "likes" competition for instant gratification from a dangerously young, pre-teen age, I think removing the "middleman" (social media) will go a long way in developing more personal interaction-based skills that will improve society as a whole (by developing our connections and increasing our satisfaction from interacting with PEOPLE and not computers.)

 
Anna Post
on Apr 24, 2014 - 9:24 pm

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I think that this video definitely explores into the vast, behind the scenes industry of social media. Exposing the many tactics used by producers is an eye opener for many. I don’t believe that it is considered being used because simply putting yourself online leaves your information accessible to all. I don’t think, as a teenager myself that teens particularly think about it in general, let alone care. If anything it is beneficial for us because we are then advertised things of our liking and are able to relate better. As our generation has become surrounded by technology, it’s only practical that advertisers use social media to catch our attention. Lets face it, your more likely to read something on twitter or instagram, or see it on the news than to actually see a billboard or read a newspaper.  

 
Daylen  C
on Mar 03, 2014 - 7:31 am

I don't think that teens in my generation think that they are being used, and if they are I definitely don't think they would care. My generation is so consumed with technology, especially with social media like instagram or Twitter that it would be hard for most to notice anything aside from how many "likes" they got on a picture. Teens want to be liked so this is why the big advertisement agenies stay targeting them because if someone in this generation does not follow the tends that are out, they become outsiders. This generations teens don't want to be different in a society where that is frowned upon, which is why the big companies stay in business.

 
Anita  Lekova
on Mar 02, 2014 - 11:26 pm

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that technology is dominating our world. However, although there are undeniable consequences of the use of social media and the internet/technology in general, I believe that there are also undeniable benefits. For example, we are creating a more eco friendly environment in our schools by turning towards technology. Furthermore, cell phones are allowing more and more kids to be saved from being kidnapped because they have tracker devices on them. Parents can contact their kids more through general cell phone use. On the other hand, procrastination is a major consequence to technology that we, as students, have to face. I would love to say most students procrastinate by reading books, but this is simply not the case. Also, putting certain photos up on the internet - where they are accessible to everyone - puts a lot of people in danger. There is also the reality of cyberbullying. Yet, even after all of this, it is important to remember that technology actually does help students move forward in their lives. In AP Biology, we do online labs that may be dangerous otherwise to do in real life; in AP English we use online textbooks in order to not waste paper; in chinese, we write all of our documents on the computers. The AP Chinese exam actually uses computers for the writing part, and uses recorders for the speaking part. Without technology, these things would not be available. As for corporations, I do not believe that the companies are using us. Are there monopolies? More than likely. Are they successful? Yes. However, I would like to believe that their ultimate goal is to spread their technology throughout the nation in order to connect it on a more personal level. Through technology, everything is interactive. People from cultures all over the world are allowed to interact with one another. People can look up new movements and can support amazing causes. They can become more environmentally friendly, they can learn about things they never thought they could, and they can find support. 

 
Emily T
on Mar 02, 2014 - 10:32 pm

I find it interesting that in this day and age everyone is so focused on technology. They are gearing everything towards the younger generation and I feel that they get blind sighted by that. There are some students who prefer taking notes by hand intead of using a computer. I feel that we get taught at such a young age to use technology that we are just programed to respond to the next "new thing" that is out on the market. I remember going down to the computer lab in kindergarden and learning how to use a computer. We are just so absorbed with the lifestyle of constantly checking our phones, being on social media, that we don't realize that companies know that and are directing their products to our devices so we can see them. It also is different for every person. I think that if the companies try mix up how they advertise their products. Some on social media, but vary how much. Don't have it constanly in our face. 

 
David Kaye
on Feb 27, 2014 - 1:37 pm

I am strongly oppossed to how teenagers can get absorbed by companies such as social media. I, being a junior in high school, have been in numerous situations where I am hanging out with friends and they are either on their phones checking twitter or instagram, or they are talking about what someone tweeted. It takes the fun out of hanging out in person, and people might as well stay home and tweet at their friends if that is what hanging out entails. I believe that teenagers are very easily absorbed by marketing companies and can become quickly obsessed with something. This is very powerful manipulation of the minds of kids, and they either don't notice it occuring or don't care. As long as their friends are obsessed with the same thing, they don't care they are being used. It is far more important for them to fit in with their social group than to preserve their individuality, both from their friends and from the companies.

 

Responses(1)

Andrew Samtoy
on Feb 27, 2014

David - 

Thanks for this!  What do you do when, for example, someone stops talking to you to check their phone?  And do any of your peers feel like this?

Andrew

 
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Shaina  Wolinsky
on Feb 27, 2014 - 8:40 am

I think that it is quiet intersting becuase there are so many pros and cons to using technology. The pros being it is so much easier to communicate with our teachers. with a couple clicks of our phone we can ask about our homeowork and get help. As well we can look up how to do our homework a different way if we dont understand the way our teacher teachers it. However it can also be it is very easy to get distracted.Then we will not get any work done. I think that if you can find a happy medium then you will be ok. 

 

Responses(1)

Andrew Samtoy
on Feb 28, 2014

Thanks, Shaina!  Do you ever struggle with that happy medium?  

 
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Dar'Jon Bentley
on Feb 26, 2014 - 5:55 pm

As a teen it is hard to not want to buy the new technology, but s teenagers we don't care at all. Manly it depends on what type of teen you are. I know almost 90% of teens don't care about the stuff they buy, and the other 10% care, because we are just the more causious to what we want and what we needed. Everytime we watch movies online there is an ad, everytime we watch tv there are a whole bunch of ads, and I think by adding teenagers into commericals, and having not actors into commericals, it makes us more want to be involed in the new inventions, and the new gadgets. I feel as though people who live in the hood and places like those learn to not crave for the new gadgets, than kids who grew up with that privilege to have new gadgets, and technology. This is also acoount of less sleeping time, and if we don't sleep at night, than how do you expect the teens to stay up during class. Then if you don't stay up during class you fail, and when you fail you can't make it in life. So teens are more attach to social media more than school work.

 
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jennifer bullock
on Feb 26, 2014 - 4:00 pm

I just finished watching, thanks for this forum -  I am intrigued as along time teen advocate & family therapist.    Great point made about the sophistication of kids and technology now -  even from 10 years ago,  while there is a simultaneous lack of worldliness / politics and introspection re:  the influence of the capitialist/consumerist machine.

I wonder though about the limitations of this  method we adults tend to still use of looking into the world of teens as if we are separate anthropologists watching this other species to gain knowledge.  I think we need  to  create new  methods  of study, conversation, understanding that are more focused on the social fabric, interconnectedness,  relationality of all the generations.  How do we support parents, kids, teachers, community members of all ages to  create conversation and deepen understanding of our 21st century world in a way that does not perpetuate the false concept that any of us (in the broader sense of life) are ever disconnected/alone?

 
Vincent O'Keefe
on Feb 20, 2014 - 2:04 am

I like how the Frontline show remains relatively objective, refusing to judge the teens' behaviors much. I had mixed feelings as a parent. On one hand, it's true that adults tend to underestimate the ability of teens to think critically about technology, and in some cases even use it to their advantage, as the show illustrates. On the other hand, I was uncomfortable by the seeming lack of skepticism the teens have toward "Big Business." It seems they might be ripe for a dystopian novel that could warn them about the dangers of Big Business the way Orwell's 1984 warned their parents (and grandparents) about Big Government. The issue of privacy is fascinating in this regard. It was so telling that the teens did not know the meaning of a "sellout"--perhaps because they no longer sense a personal core that is not already commercialized?

If interested, I recently wrote a related piece on technology and families at HuffPost Screen Sense titled "6 Homemade 'Apps' for Parents in the Digital Age."

 

 
Your Teen Media
From the Moderator: Your Teen Media
on Feb 19, 2014 - 3:40 pm

Another scenario that struck me as extreme was the girl who is obsessed with Hunger Games. Once again, I remember many friends in high school who were obsessed with rock stars. What I considered different in this situation is that she is so isolated. She spends hours and hours in her room interacting with everything related to Hunger Games. When a celebrity tweets her back, it is like a homerun. @Trysa - do you think there comes a time when a parent should restrict this kind of teenage adoration?

 

Responses(3)

Andrew Samtoy
on Feb 19, 2014

Is it different than teens obsessing over the Beatles, or Rudloph Valentino, getting all of the magazines about them, listening to records/watching movies/poring over articles, and fantasizing about them?  

 
Deborah Gilboa, MD
on Feb 19, 2014

That is a great question Sue! In medicine we identify addiction as "continued use in spite of negative consequences." I do think that parents can often see addiction when teens can't.

 
Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 20, 2014

Yes I think it's way different. When you were obsessed with the Beatles (for me it was Boy George - LOL) you weren't leaving behind a massive data exhaust of your behavior and possibly putting yourself in harm's way. How easy would it be for someone to contact that young woman pretending to be a rep for Jennifer Lawrence with the intention of doing her harm? 

 
Expand This Thread
Taylor Wadsworth
on Feb 19, 2014 - 1:58 pm

After watching Generation Like, I tweeted my overall response using #GenLike. Many news stories discuss topics without really connecting people with more information on the topic or how they can take action on the topic.

I think it is important for us as consumers in this technical age to be active participants in what we, and our Generation Like kids, are doing. We can't sit idly by and hope that we (and our kids) are making the right decisions about what they are searching, sharing, and buying. Nor should we think that we can control it completely either.

One of my favorite news sources right now is RYOT News, using #BecometheNews, RYOT news reports and then links the reader to a way to take action. This could be a petition to sign, an organization to donate to, or more educational information about the topic being reported.

Active participation is key.

 

Responses(3)

Deborah Gilboa, MD
on Feb 19, 2014

What an incredibly cool app! Thank you Taylor!

 
Your Teen Media
on Feb 19, 2014

I am a little stuck on RYOT. Check out the site. So great Taylor weighed in.

 
Eca Taylor
on Feb 19, 2014

I worry about technology and the huge time suck it has become, not just for teens but for aldults also.  I can't even remember what I used to do with my time before the internet.  I feel that this generation has no unplugged time to just hang out.

 
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Your Teen Media
From the Moderator: Your Teen Media
on Feb 19, 2014 - 12:54 pm

I found one story featured in Generation Like to be very complicated. Steven Fernandez is a  very charismatic 13-year-old skateboarder who builds a following by videotaping himself as he skateboards. He gains fame, followed by money from sponsors, and the money is a real game-changer for his family who appears to live below the poverty line. Great (ish) so far. Well then he finds that people are more interested in racy videos so he starts to capitalize on what the audience wants - a 13-year-old who is selling sexy and inappropriate. And that approach brings him even greater fame. As I watched his story unfold, I had this sinking feeling that there is no way this will end well. Yet, all he was doing was giving the people what they want. How can we explain to young teens why his choices are bad ones.

 

Responses(4)

Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 19, 2014

Well I hate to say it - but where are his mom and dad? My heart goes out to the child because he wants to make a better life for his family, but at what cost? There doesn't seem to be anyone steering that ship. 

This is a teachable moment like any other. And goodness knows there are no shortage of examples of eventual outcomes. Between Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus (and all of the rest) it isn't difficult to chart the outcomes. The problem comes in when your sweet child looks at you and says "but he's rich". Yes, well - there is that.

I go back to media literacy. Parents teaching their children media literacy at every turn can make a dent of raising their level of awareness. 

 
Meenakshi Durham
on Feb 19, 2014

We absolutely have to communicate to teens about all the issues and problems involved with exploiting sexuality for profit. Teens aren't sheltered any more from very adult forms of sexuality, so in a way it's no surprise that a 13-year-old would engage in those behaviors to generate "popularity" and fame. But those of us who are troubled by this, and have different value systems, absolutely need to be opening up conversations with kids about the complex and vital issues at stake here. Often times, kids are more aware and critical than you'd imagine! And if they haven't thought about analyzing what's going on, it will open their eyes to a different way of seeing the media, and (I hope) resisting the more harmful messages.

 
Deborah Gilboa, MD
on Feb 19, 2014

In the same way we convince teens to change anything - by asking what their goals are. His goal has been to earn money and reputation. I very much hope a mentor can help him figure out what he wants to leverage that for. This is the biggest challenge for teens in any age - to really picture themselves as adults and create goals to shoot for in that time frame.

 
Andrew Samtoy
on Feb 19, 2014

I watched some of his videos on YouTube afterward; the apparent absence of parents is one concern, but there also seems to be active facilitation and encouragement on the part of other adults.  This story seemed different than the other stories; it involved less about what teens were doing online and more about what he was doing in the real world, with people encouraging him by liking/subscribing.  

 
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Dr. Trysa Shulman
on Feb 19, 2014 - 12:03 pm

We have known for a long time that children who are made into child stars are at risk of losing themselves and of having their development taken off track by the seductive promises of "being loved by all." 

Children and teens seeking You Tube fame or Instagram fame can be lured in by that same promise. So can adults, for that matter. Still, some child stars (like Shirley Temple) seem to be able to manage their stardom well at a young age, and then go on to lead healthy, productive lives. 

 

Responses(3)

Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 19, 2014

I'm not sure that Shirley Temple is a fair comparison. That was an exceedingly controlled environment. Yesterday's Shirley Temple could be today's Honey Boo Boo given a different set of circumstances. 

 
Your Teen Media
on Feb 19, 2014

I always felt grateful that my kids were talented in a more limited, community standards way. I would have had a hard time holding back a very talented kid if opportunity had presented itself. Too much fawning and attention at any age seems hard for people to manage, for sure too much at a young age often leads to a train wreck. I wonder if parents of rising athletes, musicians and thespians ever say no, or not yet. What do you think?

 
Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 19, 2014

I think that's a chicken-egg scenario. Does the talent precede the fawning? Or does the permissiveness precede the notoriety? Think of that mother & daughter in the film. Was her daughter really a superstar singer? She stopped videotaping herself singing, and now is famous for being famous. If you consider the 10K hour rule (it takes 10K hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at anything), then we might really be talking about the hyper-attention focused on the child by mom as being the birthplace of the "talent". But I agree that eventually hyper-focus on the child goes down the rabbit hole to the absurd. 

 
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Dr. Trysa Shulman
on Feb 19, 2014 - 12:03 pm

Douglas Rushkoff did a great service in making this film. Understanding how marketing, social media, psychology, and profit interact to form the digital landscape is the first step in figuring out how to navigate that landscape with integrity and without losing yourself. 

 

 

Responses(5)

Diana Simeon
on Feb 19, 2014

Yes and just understanding what a platform like Facebook actually is -- a platform for collecting massive amounts of data to turn around an sell to advertisers and marketers. When Frank Koughan (producer of the documentary) made that point during yesterday's Sound of Ideas, I thought, wow, does any Facebook user -- adults or teenagers -- think about it in those terms? Every "Like," every post, every photo, every share, every everything is being monetized. So, we're literally allowing a for-profit, publicly traded company to make huge amounts of revenue off our personal data in exchange for what exactly ... a sense of connectedness (but not really). Fascinating. That's not to say the profit motive means social media is bad, but yes, that we and our teenagers need to understand what we're participating in here.

 
Andrew Samtoy
on Feb 19, 2014

It was also interesting to hear the owner of The Audience say that what they were doing was totally transparent and obvious.  Do you think it's murkier than he indicated?

 
Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 19, 2014

I don't think its murky in the least - and now I'm putting my digital strategist hat on - this is a case of "caveat emptor" - let the buyer beware. Participation in the community/platform presupposes that you understand the environment and the consequences. "Big data" is the real value Facebook owns. It isn't ownership of the critical mass of people - it's the data exhaust left behind by those people that has the highest value. But I'll go back (again) to the fact that parents need to begin teaching their children how to be effective consumers of media. 

 
Diana Simeon
on Feb 19, 2014

I love the term data exhaust. Facebook seems to be pretty upfront about what they collect. They've posted their Data Use policy, which details what data the company gathers. But I'm guessing most people do not read this (I never have). So, I think while, yes, we should know what's happening when we use this service, many of us probably don't. I also think a lot of folks, especially teenagers, don't particularly care. They're not so worried about a corporation knowing all sorts of intimate details about their lives.

 
Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 19, 2014

I agree Diana - and here's where the whole "the fish don't know they're in water" thing comes into play. Kids don't consider their data "intimate details" - to some degree because they've been desensitized to brain dump it all on the screen.  

 
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Dr. Trysa Shulman
on Feb 19, 2014 - 10:35 am

Good Morning everyone! Great to watch the Front Line documentary and join the conversation. One of the things that struck me is the way we as adults often frame the divide between the online world and the "real world". For most people growing up in the digital age, the virtual world is part of the actual world. What happens online is part of real life.

One of the jobs of teens is to try out various ways of presenting themselves and see what reactions they get. This helps them form their identities. The trick is to not get confused between default marketing culture and true values. It helps to have parents and other adults in the community who don't also get carried away with numbers of likes and the commercialization of kids' online habits.

 

 

 

Responses(2)

Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 19, 2014

That's such a great point. I always tell parents: Your children don't realize that they're immersed in technology any more than a fish realizes he's surrounded by water. Tech is just the world that they're surrounded by. 

 
Andrew Samtoy
on Feb 19, 2014

My mother, a nurse, used to work with drug addicts in a shelter New York City.  A couple of heroin addicts from Brooklyn used to watch soap operas every day.  One day, my mom asked them why they loved soap opearas so much.  They'd obviously thought about it, because they said something to the effect of, "This is the only way we can find out what real life is like."  

 
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Meenakshi Durham
on Feb 19, 2014 - 9:51 am

Hi, everyone! Thanks for the opportunity to join this conversation. Regarding the quest for popularity through "likes," I was thinking (as I watched the documentary) that one of the dark sides to "Generation Like" is the question of the kids who don't get many "likes" -- the ones who are relegated to low positions in the social hierarchy of "likes." How are they affected? Does this contribute to cyber-bullying? What are the social implications? And then there are concerns about the ones who successfully chase "likes," as well. The kinds of behaviors they're engaging in to get more "likes" doesn't seem exactly productive or healthy. The girl who spent 45 hours a week on "Hunger Games" activities online . . . when does she find time for anything else?! As Douglas Rushkoff pointed out in the documentary, these kids are feeling "empowered" by being manipulated by corporations!

 

Responses(2)

Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 19, 2014

I agree! The underbelly of all of this can prove to be a rather dark place for those kids who don't "rank". And as we saw in the presentation - in the case of the young skateboarder - the more outrageous (and inappropriate) the content the more credibility and currency that builds. I have to admit to cringing a bit when the mom of the young lady at the end admitted that  full body photo of her young daugher on Instagram was "guaranteed" to be more successful. The assumption is that all of these LIKES are coming from other kids. That's not the case. 

 
Deborah Gilboa, MD
on Feb 19, 2014

Hi Gigi! You bring up some really excellent points. This can be as damaging for kids who are wildly "successful" as for those who feel completely marginalized.

 
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Your Teen Media
From the Moderator: Your Teen Media
on Feb 19, 2014 - 9:39 am

Many of the kids who were highlighted on Generation Like were kids who loved being the center of attention. Tyler Oakley, for example, is building himself as a brand. He is overjoyed as he watches his social media status rise. And he feeds that growth as often as he can. I knew Tylers when I was a kid, for sure--those big personalities who loved being front and center. But the biggest difference is that adults are now listening to Tyler. Tyler is an expert. And the adults are not. So they hang on every word he says. Do you worry that this "expert" status will have a detrimental affect as our kids grow up?

 

Responses(1)

Deborah Gilboa, MD
on Feb 19, 2014

I do worry about that. Anecdotally, I saw an awards show at which a young Noah Wyle was being interviewed about his many awards as an actor on the TV show ER. "How do you feel about this huge success, Noah?" "I don't think I'm too happy about peaking at 23."

 
Expand This Thread
Your Teen Media
on Feb 19, 2014 - 7:30 am

Frontline's Generation Like was an interesting perspective on today's teens. "For today's teens, you are what you like." I see this phenomenon in my own house. When someone posts a new profile picture, that kid is very focused on the number of "likes." But I also see another trend - as they get older, they care less and less. So my question is, Doesn't this behavior  mimic real life and the adolescent quest for popularity? And is it more worrisome when it is happening on the Internet?" What do you think?

 

Responses(7)

Deborah Gilboa, MD
on Feb 19, 2014

Developmentally, this focus should peak in middle school and early high school - when the focus on peer group is highest and most compelling. This is a crucial step in establishing themselves as separate from family and parents as "individuals" - first they want another group to tell them how they feel! As kids get older they feel more confident in their own opinions.

Like anything else, the stakes can be higher online, as their actions and reactions are not ever truly lost or forgotten and their reputation is built before they are ready!

Has anyone seen an example of younger teens letting their "likes" get away from them?

 
Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 19, 2014

Good morning Your Teen! BTW - Love all the content you put out. If there are any parents out there who have NOT taken a look at Your Teen in print and online - you're missing out. In terms of your question - when I present to tweens and teens I do find that the interest does begin to wear off, so to speak; however I think that this is related more to how "full" the child's life is with other real life experiences. Virtual focus seems to remain constant in a life which isn't filled in other ways. 

 
Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 19, 2014

@Deborah - the "guilt by association" rule definitely operates online as well. I tell parents to check who their child is being followed BY on social apps (like Instagram and Twitter), as well as who the child is following. "Why is my child following someone whose handle is '@sexallnight'? This is where the need for parental engagement comes in, at the younger ages parents need to be content gatekeepers-once children are older parents can take the media journey along with their children.

 
Deborah Gilboa, MD
on Feb 19, 2014

@Jesse I completely agree! Parental engagement is a great way to think of it - not lurking or stalking but joining and guiding!

 
Your Teen Media
on Feb 19, 2014
 
Dr. Trysa Shulman
on Feb 19, 2014

@Your Teen -- caring less and less is a good sign that they are moving on to other developmental tasks, as Deborah alluded to. Once kids feel more comfortable with who they are, they can begin working on relating to people in more intimate and honest ways. Building healthy intimate friendships and relationships is not about how many likes you get.

 
Deborah Gilboa, MD
on Feb 19, 2014

@Trysa I totally agree! I do think, though, that the skills and experiences they acquire by entering the online world is useful learning!

 
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Your Teen Media
on Feb 18, 2014 - 10:06 pm

Frontline - Generation Like - Watch it now. 

 
Your Teen Media
on Feb 18, 2014 - 9:11 pm

Hello everyone, Susan Borison here from Your Teen Media. I am very excited to moderate this discussion. This morning on Mike McIntyre's Sound of Ideas, Dr. Lisa Damour shared many valuable insights on the topic of teens and social media. Three stood out for me: "Social media is neither good nor bad," "Teens branding themselves is not new. How do I want to be seen?" and she quoted Oscar Wilde, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." Those quotes are a great starting point for this conversation. I will be watching Frontline in one hour (10pm) and then the fun will begin. Please join in the conversation. Click on the link to watch with us. 

 
Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 18, 2014 - 1:05 pm

Thanks so much for asking me to become a part of this incredibly critical discussion! I have the opportunity to travel all over the US teaching thousands of parents, students, and teachers each year on how to be proactive in terms of internet safety - and all the expected risks like cyberbullying and sexual predation - all the way to the risks you might not be thinking about: like exposure to pornography at extremely young ages. If you are interested in coming to a free community parent presentation - use the link below and find a date/location near you. I would love to see you there! 

 

Responses(2)

The Uhl Group
on Feb 19, 2014

Delighted to know you are part of this important topic, Jesse.  What did you think of the show?

 
Jesse Weinberger
on Feb 19, 2014

Hey Uhl Group - LOVE YOU GUYS....I thought the program was terrific. My largest take away is the need for additional parental engagement in the process. Which is usually my answer to everything- LOL. HOWEVER, I really do feel that parents need to take this media journey with their children and engage in some deep analysis of the child's media experience. 

 
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Deborah Gilboa, MD
on Feb 14, 2014 - 10:39 pm

I'm honored to be a part of this discussion, as this issue will shape so much of our teens' views of themselves, their peer group and the way the world views them. I'm a national parenting speaker, Family Physician and author. As the media spokesperson for Parenting Expo 2014 coming to Cleveland in April, I'm fascinated by the challenges we face today raising respectful, responsible and resilient kids (my own four included!).