The Internet Parent
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

18 Years Old, YouTube Star, and Still Naive

"People forget that I'm a real, normal young girl with a life, feelings and a right to privacy…"

As reported in “Tassie YouTube Star Calls It Quits” by Louisa Hearn in The Age on August 28th, these words were posted by “Emmalina”, an 18-year-old from Australia, who rose to fame on YouTube. She apparently posted cute, funny, mundane, and occasionally raunchy clips of herself and her life.

Imagine her surprise when she discovered that:

"Every day I logged in and discovered more and more cruel spoofs, harassing videos, death and rape threats, incredibly nasty comments and God knows what else.”

And she found that “creepy old men” would post lewd messages on her and other YouTube videos of young women.

This whole story is sad. But it also became serious and dangerous when “someone had hacked into her computer and obtained recent pictures and videos from it that had never been posted online as well as ‘incredibly private files.’” Stalkers discovered her real identity even though she posted and performed under a pseudonym, and circulated her personal information on line. And that, finally, scared her off.

When will YOUR kids realize how dangerous their on-line behavior is?

I’ve spoken to so many parents who say, “Well, she’s 16/17/18 years old. There’s nothing I can do about it now. And she’s old enough to make her own decisions.”

As you can see, even at 18, she’s not. To post videos of yourself on YouTube, turn yourself into an amateur celebrity, and then say, “I’m a real, normal young girl with…a right to privacy” bespeaks a fundamental lack of understanding (and perhaps judgment) about the nature of the Internet.

Internet behavior is public behavior. And the Internet is forever.

No, Emmalina, people don’t forget that you’re a real person. In fact, that’s what makes you so seductive. And they don’t believe you have a right to privacy, because you’ve invited them to share very intimate details about you. You don’t believe it. But those creepy, lewd old men and the aggressive, nasty detractors – they very definitely believe it.

Did you think that only “nice” people would view your videos?

Before you write off your older teenager to the scrapheap of 15 minutes of fame and 15 years of psychological damage, make the effort to educate yourself and your kids.

When will your kids realize how dangerous their on-line behavior is?

When will you talk to them about it?


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