Tweet by LindsayLohanCelebrities today get away with making a lot of "mistakes" on the Internet -- sometimes they do so at their own expense, but in Hollywood, it often ends up that bad publicity is better than no publicity, right? Well, for ordinary teens, making such mistakes online can do serious damage to a kid's personal life -- and even their future educational or professional pursuits.
Our friends at SafetyWeb are here with some good advice for teens about Twitter, Facebook, photos, and more. Read on for the top five mistakes celebrities like Khloe Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan, and John Mayer make online and then find out five ways kids can avoid making the same mistakes as their celebrity idols.
5 Biggest Mistakes Celebs Make Online & How to Avoid Them
Entertainers and public figures struggle to strike a balance between staying relevant and enjoying privacy to carry on a normal life outside the public eye. In an effort to gain attention, some celebrities "over-share" and publicize information to get "shock value" and generate a reaction and news around them.
The top five mistakes celebrities make when posting online are:
- Sharing private photographs or videos of themselves: Even if the intent is to show a "cute" or candid photo, the photo and its intent can be misinterpreted. A recent photo that Khloe Kardashian posted of herself as a nude child has been criticized as over-sharing and opening the door for more criticism. She is pushing the boundaries and inviting the public into a cherished private family memory.
- Discourse about private or legal matters: Lindsay Lohan has had her share of legal problems, and she has taken to attempting to sway public opinion and win in the court of public opinion. She is very active on Twitter and posts her opinions and tries to explain things in "140 characters or less." From her legal troubles, alcohol issues, and relationship problems with ex-girlfriend Samantha Ronson, Lindsay has given a veritable daily diary of her very personal issues. Engaging with her father and having Twitter "arguments" has prompted some to voice grave concern for her emotional well-being. Also, Melissa Etheridge's ex, Tammy Lynn Michaels, recently took to her blog to discuss her side of their breakup because she didn't feel that it was being accurately portrayed from statements given by Melissa. So far, this hasn't caused any major backlash, but has certainly extended the time their personal breakup has been covered by the media.
- Discussion of job dissatisfaction/disapproval of a colleagues' work: Courtney Love is being sued by a clothing designer Dawn Simorangkir for libel and cause of emotional stress. Love voiced her opinion about the designer, again, on Twitter. Love posted various tweets describing the designer herself and her work in a less than complementary manner. The designer claims that Love's tweets were an attempt to "ruin her good business and destroy her good name."
- Displaying their locations in real-time: Celebs often talk of their vacation plans or post photos or comments once they've reached their destinations. This makes them a prime target for home invasions and robberies; thieves have confirmation that celebrities will not be in their homes. The recent theft ring targeting young stars' homes in LA was successful because they knew when the stars were out on the red carpet. Some of the stars that were burgled include: Orlando Bloom, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, and Paris Hilton. Also, websites like Openbook allow users to search the status of all Facebook profiles by entering a key word, allowing someone with sinister motives to track down their targets much easier.
- Over-sharing personal views about political views or personal preferences: John Mayer discussed his love life (with ex-girlfriends Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston) on Twitter. The offensive comments made by him angered feminists and women of color. He showcased his limited life experiences and alienated a large fan base.
Kids still idolize celebrities and public figures and want to emulate them. Although making poor decisions about what they post online can be harmful to celebrities, they still live by a different set of rules than the common man on the street, and may not receive as much negative backlash.
Five ways kids can avoid making the same mistakes as their celebrity idols:
- Think before you tweet/post. Imagine possible consequences to yourself or your family for sending insensitive words or images.
- Avoid topics that you would discuss with a parent or trusted adult or friend. If there's something particularly private or sensitive that you wouldn't discuss in public, don't discuss it online.
- Limit your postings to one per day. Too much of anything, even a good thing, can have its ramifications. Kids see their friends often enough at school. Over-sharing personal thoughts or ideas about things can test the patience of others and turn you into a target. Celebs like to post photos of themselves on the beach, hanging out with friends, or just hanging around at home alone. What your child may not understand is that by simply posting a photo of themselves online, they can become vulnerable. Someone can copy a photo, repost it on another site, and create an entire dialogue around a photo that had the most innocent of intentions. Meghan McCain was criticized recently for posting a photo of herself she took with her webcam on her "night in."
- A non-celebrity person has a lot to lose by making mistakes. They don't have the convenience of fame or "die-hard fans" that will stay with them through thick and thin. Cyber-bullying is rampant and can be just as debilitating to a child as real-life bullying. The greater a child's online presence, the greater the possibility of their being cyber-bullied, especially if they provide the material to do the bullying.
- Posting distasteful photos or commentary can lead to the same or direr consequences for non-celebrities. The effects can be long-lasting and impact job interviews and college entrance efforts.
What do you teach your kids about posting personal information online?