A lot of kids online are using social media to gain popularity. They’re not breaking any laws but in short, we don’t recommend it.
If you’re a teen or pre teen who is posting primarily to get “likes”, or collect friends or followers, you could be barking up the wrong tree. A number of behaviors that we see (often) have a real downside, either putting the poster herself at risk or causing harm to others:
- Posting overly sexy selfies, or too many of them
- Taking cruel shots at others – peers, teachers, famous folks – in order to get laughs
- Joining every social network that you can find
- Ignoring privacy settings and divulging personal information
- Accepting any and all friend requests in order to grow your online numbers
If you’re doing any of the above, you could be putting your online reputation at risk and overly exposing yourself to predators, trolls or cyberbullies. We recommend carefully curating a small group of online friends and keeping it as safe and simple as possible.
This line of thought doesn’t end here for some parents. What if your teen or tween wants to be internet famous, and there’s a good reason? What if she is an aspiring actor, musician or artist? In that case, internet fame can be a very valuable gateway to broad exposure and success. We can’t have forgotten Alex from Target already, who apparently has big plans.
Perhaps she isn’t seeking a gateway to a traditional entertainment career, but is looking for fame and riches from the internet itself. We’ve all heard stories of the teen YouTube millionaires out there.
If your teen or tween is going to seek out internet fame with your blessing, there are some things you’ll need to keep in mind:
Throw privacy settings out the window – We recommend young social media users set their accounts to private, and carefully screen friend requests. If you’re looking to grow your online community and turn strangers into fans, that is not going to work. Your “public” profiles and posts will be wide open.
Personal information – That doesn’t mean that all of your information should be public; quite the opposite. Even if you are opening yourself up to fans, make sure to keep information like your phone number, address, family details and other personal information private.
You might get doxed – An overly zealot fan could go to great lengths to find out where you live, your phone number or other private details. Do what you can to prevent that happening, but prepare for the worst.
There will be haters – Some people aren’t going to like you or your fame – that goes with celebrity. Develop a thick skin and focus on the fans who enjoy what you’re doing.
Keep proof – If the haters take to sending insults your way, and anything you receive can be perceived as a threat, make sure that you keep screen shots or other proof in the event that you need to report the incident to the social network or police.
Age limits still apply – If your child star is under 13, she is not technically allowed to join most social networks, including YouTube. You can get around that by having a parent “own” the account and you won’t run afoul of the rules. You wouldn’t want an account with thousands of followers to get shut down.
Make no mistake parents, having an internet-famous teen is going to put a lot of pressure on you. Your teen will need a helping hand to guide her, and you’ll need to be extra vigilant to make sure she is not at risk.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.
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