When Teens, Twitter and Internet Fame Don’t Mix

This was presented as a feel-good story, but isn’t one. A major newspaper (The Toronto Star) ran with a story that happened to out a high school student’s public Twitter account. It might well be used as a valuable lesson for students and parents.

The story: a high school freshman boy in California enlisted the help of a star Major League baseball player to ask a girl to the prom. On a whim, the star agreed to do it. Awash in limelight, the girl said yes. Internet fame has ensued. That’s the good news, at least from the point of view of the students involved..

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Bingo. She’s a big deal on the internet, at least for this week. She now has 2,425 followers on Twitter.

The bad news: The story linked to the girl’s Twitter account, which was public, and still is as of this writing. We’re not going to link to the story or the account. She is a very active Titter user, and her content is available for anyone to see. The problem? Her account has frequent profanity, pictures of drug and alcohol use and homophobic and racial slurs.

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This account highlights a number of points we frequently make when talking to parents:

  • Some teens want to be internet-famous, or at least internet-popular, and will go to great lengths to get there
  • They think what they do online is no big deal. It’s just the internet
  • Other people checking out her account, as I did, would likely form a very negative opinion

A lot of her inappropriate tweets were retweeted multiple times, which means there is a permanent record. Drug use and underage alcohol consumption are both illegal, and inappropriate comments are just that. If a college admissions officer or future employer chose to take a look at this Twitter profile, the chances of them viewing this individual in a positive light are close to zero.

Talk to your teens about keeping online activity safe and appropriate, and keeping private things private.

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

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