While the online and offline world are buzzing over Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance, I wonder where everyone has been for the last year. The performance by Hannah Montana’s alter ego was shocking – and not in a good way – but it was not too far off with what is already all over the web. Twerking has joined modern pop culture talk and videos all over the web, as evidenced with my favorite leading indicator of rebellious behavior….hot-selling shorts at summer beach stores.
Online dad Jim Higley agreed that we should not let Robin Thicke off the hook. Online mom Beth Feldman (a.k.a RoleMommy) could not help but share her PR/branding tips to help Miley Cyrus and on OMG Insider:
Many teens and young adults believe that getting attention online, including social media, is a type of approval. Miley Cryus confirmed this point with her tweet after the VMA’s. Her performance had “306,000 tweets per minute – more then the superbowl“.
Is this type of attention the right type of attention for her brand? When I asked my teen son (who is very up on modern pop culture and a fan of rebellious musical performances) about Miley Cyrus’s VMA “Twerk” performance and how she was sharing how popular it was online he said “Ewwww“. When my 10 year old sons have heard about the twerking incident, they shook their heads and said “What happened to Hannah Montana?”
With new reports that Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke knew they would be “making history” and that everyone is “overthinking it”, it seems as though it was a planned strategy. I am also a fan of shocking musical performances such as Madonna and Lady Gaga, but think this type of performance was not the right type of shocking for a professional image. Because I speak on the topic of branding for professionals, I thought I would share tips for parents to talk about branding/online image with their kids. With discussions raging on Miley Cryus’s behavior, this may just be the perfect time.
1. What is popular does not equal what is appropriate for your image/brand: I suggest that parents pay attention to the popular terms in modern pop culture (like Twerking) then help their kids understand what may be popular is not always appropriate. This goes hand in hand with kids’ understanding that the image they share online will stay with them the rest of their lives, and be seen by audiences varying from college recruiters to future employers. Then parents can discuss with their kids how to brand themselves with an understanding of allowing free expression that is appropriate to share online and what should be kept offline.
2. Parents Should Learn The Terms: I was confused at how it took something as public as the VMAs to get people in an uproar about Twerking. It has been going on for some time. Yes, teens and dancing always seems to be a hot button or movie theme. So the more parents can keep up on the current terms, the better they will be prepared to discuss what is and is not appropriate for their kids age (again, what is popular may not be good for their personal brand). It’s great to give kids some slack regarding freedom of expression. But now that every event seems to have someone taking pictures and posting online, maybe some dances need to stay off the dance floor and social media platforms.
The task of trying to keep up to date on terms and websites kids are using may be overwhelming, but there are sites that offering information to help. My core philosophy is to start by rewarding kids for sharing what apps they are using and have regular internet safety talks.
At the same time, parents can look online to understand terms and apps. I start with monitoring research such as the Pew research reports and lists like the top social media apps kids are using. Resources such as search engines and internet safety sites including NetSmartz, ESRB and Common Sense Media are also a great place to start. ESRB has an updated version of its mobile ratings app to include interactive elements (shares personal info, shares location, users interact). Even though rumors about the word “Twerk” being added to the Oxford Dictionary may be wrong, the term WAS added to the Oxford Dictionary online (OED) which the Slate website called “a historical dictionary and it forms a record of all the core words and meanings in English over more than 1,000 years, from Old English to the present day, including many obsolete and historical terms. Words are never removed from the OED.” So the OED may be a good place to check to understand that foreign language our kids speak.
While the goal is to open up a respectful dialog with kids so they come to their parents to discuss issues, being a parent also means delivering the hard to hear but important information to protect their kids. This tweet shared by Miley seemed to show her Dad did not give her the difficult-to-hear feedback.
How do you keep up on terms used by your kids? Which ones do you have an issue with?