It was the (fake?) tongue ring seen 'round the world. Yesterday, news of 11-year-old Willow Smith getting a tongue ring blew up on the Web. The "wild child" daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith had posted a pic of herself and a friend with fresh "piercings" (hers on her tongue and her friend's on her chin/lower lip) on Instagram... Side note: Parents, if you don't know what Instagram is, you probably should (photo-sharing social media platform connected to Facebook).
It turns out -- according to singer/actress Willow anyway -- that the piercings were just fake. "It's fake... Sorry," she later commented on her Instagram photo. But not before the masses saw it and wondered, "Where are her parents?!!"
Well, a new hole in your child's head is one thing to be concerned about... But I would say, the bigger question in this era of cyber-scariness might be, why would an 11-year-old -- even a rebellious celeb offspring with a "career" of her own (yes, folks, she sings one of your faves: 'I Whip My Hair Back and Forth') -- have her own (well-publicized) Instagram and Twitter accounts?
I can just hear Willow's tween friends, and her friends of friends, and friends of those friends, and... you get the idea... whining to their parents right now: "But Mooommmmmm, Willow is on Facebook." Isn't that how it goes these days? Peer pressure trickles down (or is it up?) to parents, all because someone thought it was great to be the "cool" mom or dad with loose rules? Step up to the plate, Fresh Prince, and don't let your child be so fresh. I would think that every parent -- of a child star or not -- would love for their kid to have a "Personal Life" Wikipedia blurb as short as the likes of Dakota Fanning. Wild child never ends well...
Oh... I just checked, and Willow's Twitter account has been shut down. Eureka! Next PR crisis averted... or at least postponed?
So, what's the youngest age you have heard of a child being on Facebook (which is technically for 13+) or other social media? At what age did/will you allow your child on Facebook, etc.? How do you help keep your child safe online?
A recent NYTimes article highlighted how online surveillance software and apps for parents to monitor kids' online use are booming. "Surveys, including by the Pew Research Center, have found that two-thirds of parents check their children’s digital footprints and nearly 40 percent follow them on Facebook and Twitter," the Times reports. "But the Pew study suggests that this monitoring is also likely to lead to arguments between parent and child."
Do you track your child's every move online, or do you stick with talking about the rules and trying to establish trust? Tough call... even for Will and Jada. :)