It’s a Mad, Mad World Online: Kids Take Note

Today my son won an award–YAY!! I’ve already tweeted about it, facebooked the pics, and sent pics by gmail and text. It’s a Proud Mama day for me.


My son Michael won a Sports Writing award from the NJ Collegiate Press Association, an organization dedicated to helping college newspaper staffs produce better newspapers, solicit advertising, recruit staff members and avoid libel suits. And the good folks at the NJ Press Foundation–including Director John O’Brien (no relation, but isn’t that funny?)–put together a luncheon to give out awards to outstanding college writers and editors with guest speaker C.L. Lindsey III, Esq. and boy, did he have a lot to tell us.

Lindsey is the founder of the Coalition for Student & Academic Rights and the author of The College Student’s Guide to the Law. His presentation today: Sexting, Confessions & Facebook–How to avoid legal woes online, was quite an eye opener. OMG kids today, right?

Yes, kids are still as stupid as they’ve ever been (no offense kids, but you know you are). We were as stupid back in the day as you are now–BUT we didn’t put all our mistakes out there for all the world to see, and that was a very good thing.

“If you wouldn’t do it offline, don’t do it online,” said Lindsey as he presented a slide show of action figures doing bad things (he sure had everyone’s attention!). Drunk pic just dying to share? Well, before you post, consider this: Would you make oh, 10,000 copies say, and put them up all over campus? No? Then don’t post the pic, because that’s what you’re doing. Think your professors aren’t gonna find out? Think again, kids.


Think your online profile is private? HA! Even as you might want to quote the 4th amendment, understand that you can’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy ONLINE. It’s  ALL accessible, says Lindsey. All of it.

I have an ongoing argument with my 12-year-old niece and her Dad, my brother, on what she posts. “But it’s private, only my friends can see,” my cute little nincompoop of a  niece implores me to believe. Pa-lease. If you won’t listen to me (and recent posts tell me you’re not) then listen to a lawyer who gets thousands of requests every year for help from college students whose posts have jumped the fence–that is to say, have gone public without their approval.

“You NEVER know who’s going to receive your pic/text/email,” he says. “And you can’t trust privacy apps like Snapchat.”

From Wikipedia: “Using the application, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as “Snaps”. Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps (as of April 2014, the range is from 1 to 10 seconds),after which they will be hidden from the recipient’s device and deleted from Snapchat’s servers.”

Know how long it takes someone to view your pic and retweet it? Yeah, less than ten seconds.

Kids are killing themselves over what shows up on social media. Twenty percent of teenagers (22% of girls and 18% of guys) have sent nude or semi-nude photos of themselves to someone. And 33% of teenage guys have shared those kind of pics. Do the math: they’re not sending pics of themselves girls: they’re re-sending pics of you.

This guy even ended up on ABC: his parents must be so proud…


Wanna show your bf that you miss him? Think twice before sending that sexy shot, says Lindsey, because when you break up, that pic’s going viral. It happens all the time and he had the pics of dead girls to prove it.

Yeah, it was a funny, enlightening but scary presentation.

Think you’re above the law because you’re a kid and no one will put you in jail if you share a naughty photo with the world? Think again. If you’re over 18, you can get into trouble for sexting. If you’re under 18, you can get into trouble for sexting.

“They’ll go after you with Child Pornography Laws,” Lindsey said. “It’s not as hard and fast as you think; it’s whatever the judge you’re standing before thinks.”

Ever downloaded free music or videos? It’s no different than going into a Best Buy and stuffing a movie down your pants, he said. In one day, the MPAA sued 37 thousand people who downloaded The Expendables. YOU ARE IDENTIFIABLE even if you think you’re not. If they look for you, they will find you.

locating_missing_peopleSo kids, if you’ve read this far, thanks! As a mother, I’m afraid for you. It’s a tough world online; you gotta be smart. Post pics of yourself doing volunteer work, or better yet, don’t post any pics…let your mother do that (sorry Mike) because she’s only going to post pics of you getting awards or washing the dishes or something.

By the Way–this guy Lindsey went to school with Jennifer Garner and “made out” with her on several occasions. How random is it that I JUST blogged yesterday about Jen and Kevin Costner, who I kissed once or twice (twice)? Weird, huh?

Congratulations to the staff of The Signal, The College of New Jersey’s newspaper and a place where kids post embarrassing pics of professional athletes, not themselves. Keep up the good work 😉






4 thoughts on “It’s a Mad, Mad World Online: Kids Take Note

  1. Great post, Patty. Posting embarrassing pic’s online closes so many doors on these kids, before they even begin their lives. It’s so sad.

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