Celebrities Behaving Badly

How to talk to your tween about Hollywood's "bad girls."

June 15, 2007— -- They are everywhere you go -- on the news, billboards and covers of magazines. It is difficult to imagine a world without constant reminders of Paris Hilton's DUI and jail time, Lindsay Lohan's addiction struggles or Britney Spears' pantyless car exits.

Most discerning adults can just shake their heads in disapproval and move on from the exposure to Hollywood's bad girls, but how do we help the nation's young people deal with seeing their favorite starlets behaving badly?

It's become increasingly harder for parents of impressionable tweens, kids ages 8 through 12, to teach them the differences between right and wrong when many of their famous role models are landing up in jail or rehab.

"We're giving them mixed messages. We're saying 'don't do this,' but on the other hand, we're putting these celebrities on covers of magazines and in Paris Hilton's case, she makes a lot of money to party and be a 'bad girl,' so what messages does that give to our young daughters?" Denise Restauri, president and CEO of AllyKatzz.com, a safe tween blogging site, told ABC News Now.

Pediatrician Dr. Laura Jana said one of the best ways to keep kids from confusing good and bad behavior is to make sure they fully understand Paris or Britney's latest scandal.

"What [tweens] hear is often very incomplete. They don't have the story and they don't quite know what to do with it," Jana told ABC News Now. "That's the absolute best time for a teachable moment where you sit down with your child and talk about your values and what happened."

Jana says parents may also want to consider limiting the amount of celebrity-based media their tweens consume and carefully monitoring their online activities. She suggests that keeping televisions out of kids' bedrooms and knowing what they are tapping into on the Internet are ways to help alleviate the confusion that tweens experience when their role model gets in trouble.

"If my daughter were on a teen blogging site, I would be reading it with her and asking her what she read and what she thought about it," Jana said.

Monitored tween sites like Restauri's AlleyKatzz.com may help parents with latchkey tweens or kids that have their own computers. Postings on sites similar to Alleykatzz.com are constantly screened to protect their young users.

"We hire college girls to read every single word and review every picture before it's posted on the site. We also monitor for age-appropriate commentary. We really try to let the girls have an environment, a community, where they can discuss subjects that are really important to them and yet be safe," Restauri explained.

Although tweens openly share how they're feeling with their peers over the Internet, they may not feel comfortable sharing the same things with their mother or father. This is why Jana says parents should always take an active role in addressing concerns over celebrity behavior.

"You don't always want to wait for them to come to you. If you see an issue that needs to be addressed you go to your child and talk about it, but let them guide the conversation so you're not overwhelming an 8-year-old with information that's really more appropriate for a 19-year-old," Jana said.

Try as you might, it's almost impossible to keep your tweens from encountering celebrities behaving badly in the media, but Jana believes this exposure can open the door to positive dialogue between a parent and child. She has had some firsthand experience with her own 10-year-old daughter.

"We live in the information age, and she's going to hear things and it's my goal that when she hears them I'm there for her," she said. "I explain it to her first so she doesn't hear it from anywhere else."

Jana provided ABC News Now with this list of tips for talking to your tweens about celebrity bad girls:Limit child's exposure/access.

Be an approachable parent.

Stay tuned in.

Come to discussion prepared.

Let child guide conversation.

For more on this story check out ABC News Now's Top Priority.

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