For more than a decade, the public knew very little about Paris Jackson, daughter of the late Michael Jackson and sister to Prince and Blanket. There were a few paparazzi photos but until her very famous father passed away, Paris Jackson was largely a mystery.
However, like most other teenagers, she is an avid user of social media. In fact, unlike most teens, she has more than 600,000 Twitter followers. Through her Twitter account, Paris Jackson – who is only 14 – has a major platform to speak. And her voice is amplified because of who she is and the power and wealth of her family.
While her case is largely unique, it can serve as a lesson for parents of tweens and teens: The social media megaphone is a powerful one and must be used with consciousness, guidance and social maturity. That’s a tall order for any young teenager as “digital responsibility” is a new concept that adults today are even being forced to learn.
Recently, Paris Jackson has used Twitter in such a way as to draw attention to herself – and her very famous family. Some might call her recent Tweets unflattering to her family, as they seemed to expose things most families would rather not publicly air or discuss.
But will this impact Paris’ digital footprint? We all know her father fiercely guarded his children from the public eye for years. But with only a few Tweets, we may have more insight into Paris’ life and personality than we learned in her first 14 years of life!
Or, Paris is just a typical, impulsive teen lashing out at the adults in her life.
Today’s blog shares three examples of Paris Jackson’s social media interactions and reactions. Let this be a cautionary tale for other parents. Read the three examples and TAKE ACTION to help ensure your teens and preteens aren’t compromising the safety and privacy of YOUR family.
Do you know what your tweens are tweeting?
Exhibit A – Reach
Paris Jackson has more than 659,000 followers on Twitter. That arguably puts her in the category of some of the most influential people in social media. Perhaps your teen only has a few followers though. You might think this doesn’t apply to you or your tween. But read on: The reach of her follower base isn’t what is most alarming in Paris Jackson’s case.
Paris Jackson’s profile photo appears to have been taken in her bathroom. Objectively, it’s an interesting photo – cool mirror angle, meaningful stylish T-shirt, candid pose. However, this photo is a very intimate view into what could be her personal residence. Adults need to prep their children to not share photos that could possibly lead back to the family home.
Exhibit B –Amplify
Although it is fair to say that Paris’ family life has always been in the spotlight, these snippets of turmoil have placed intimate family happenings on display for the world to view and judge. And it has been archived through media coverage — meaning it won’t be going away any time soon, if ever.
In roughly 140 characters, Paris has shared an emotional occurrence that now can reverberate for days, weeks and months to come. This is not to minimize the seriousness of the circumstances surrounding Paris’ grandmother Katherine Jackson; social media amplification can serve as a very valuable, productive tool for rallying help. However, adults need to coach children to not immediately run and air every thought and feeling online. Tweens should be taught to sit on things for 24 hours and keep private family business offline.
Exhibit C – Archive
In this Tweet, Paris Jackson tells the Twitter-sphere that she has an upcoming homework assignment and she then seeks the opinion of hundreds of thousands of followers on whether she should do the assignment now or in the morning.
What did she decide to do?
1st question: Do the adults in her life know she has this homework assignment? If she didn’t tell them, they can just learn about it by following her on Twitter. Most parents would likely not appreciate an important assignment being left to the last minute.
2nd question: How would Paris’ teacher feel about seemingly leaving her homework to languish? Many of us have tried to backpedal out of a bad grade scenario with a white lie, “But I worked so hard on this! I really did try!” Sorry kids, with this Tweet, the whole world can tell you didn’t put time into the work and the lousy grade is deserved. Nothing disappoints a parent worse than a bad grade than a lie.
3rd question: This Tweet could also influence Paris’s future. After all, would a college admissions office look favorably upon someone who clearly needs others to influence her decisions and studying practices? And what does this say to a future employer about Paris’ sleep habits, discipline and focus?
Remember, not only can every Tweet and re-Tweet add fuel to the fire, it can also EXPAND the digital footprint of an occurrence — giving it permanence. Once it’s out there, it’s out there for good.
It is so important for parents, aunts, uncles and even grandparents to help prepare children to use social media safely and with long-term online reputations in mind. Teens might not have the emotional maturity to use social communication tools responsibly. Even though Paris is 14 years old – not 8 or even 12 – her social maturity is still developing.
Think about your teen years: Would you want your thoughts and actions archived for your children to read and analyze? The answer is most likely a resounding NO.
Our hope is that tweens and teens are able to live successful and productive lives both on AND offline. If we can ever lend a helping hand to offer social media guidance, please let us know. As a team of women who use social media productively every day for personal and professional use, we want to be sure you aren’t doing anything online today that can compromise your world tomorrow.
What are your thoughts about Paris Jackson’s tweets? Do you think they compromise her safety and privacy?
Thanks for reading!
~Emily A. Hay
Parents and adults, want to learn how to prepare YOUR tech-savvy teens and preteens to use social media safely? Check out our online video program, “Saving Face v.1.0 for Parents of Tweens™,” available August 15, 2012!