Parents' Guide to

Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier

By Carla Thornton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Thought-provoking PBS site weighs Internet's pros and cons.

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What you will—and won't—find in this website.

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In 2009, PBS correspondents traveled the country asking people how the Internet has shaped their lives. This site features the raw video footage being gathered for DIGITAL NATION, a new documentary set to air in February 2010, and it's absolutely riveting.

When we visited in October 2009, there was an annoying technical problem; the videos' audio lagged by several seconds like a badly dubbed movie. But the content transcends this temporary glitch and confirms, surprises, heartens, and sometimes frightens with its revelations. For instance, many kids today indeed have shortened attention spans, but surprise: some high schools have raised test scores by handing out laptops. The stories are by turns chilling -- like desk jockeys in Nevada operating unmanned Predator drones over Afghanistan -- and lovely, such as the teenagers who meet and become real-life friends after chatting online for six years. If these are the rough cuts, the finished documentary should be terrific.

Online interaction: Leaving comments after the videos is the only way to interact with others on the site, and the few comments posted when we visited shortly after launch in October 2009 were civil, thoughtful responses to the content.

Website Details

  • Genre: Educational
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Last updated: November 5, 2015

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