Going viral: The dangers of online fame

There’s a good chance you’ve already seen a video of 5-year-old Lily Blair dancing and singing at her Lebanon preschool graduation.

“We’re at 12 million views that night,” said Lily’s grandmother, Martina Blair. “The next morning we were at 30 million. We went to a wedding. People recognized her at the wedding.”

She was the one behind the camera.

“It's always a good idea to have your cellphone out and ready with her,” she said. “You never know what she’s going to do.”

People from all over the world — including Australia, Scotland, Ukraine and South Africa — saw the video of Lily.

While nearly all of the comments are positive, some are not.

“They likened her to a pole dancer ... this one lady, I could not get over it, said ‘That is the rudest child I have ever laid my eyes on. Her teacher must be miserable having somebody that obnoxious in her classroom,’” Blair said.

“It doesn’t surprise me given that online there’s a level of distance and anonymity that we can have,” said Dr. Christine Abbuhl, a psychologist with Dayton Children’s Hospital. “It’s tricky to say what that might mean to her though going forward. In this day, especially for teens and young adults, their social media presence kind of starts to become part of their identity.”

Lily’s grandfather said at one point someone who had seen the video was able to find their address and sent a gift to their home, making them realize how vulnerable they were.

That's why Blair is warning other parents and grandparents about her experience.

“I would never recommend doing it,” she said, referring to publicly posting videos on social media.

Abbuhl said privacy is critical to both adults and children.

“Privacy is pretty important for us to be able to experiment, self explore,” she said. “It tends to be important in our development of who we are as a person.”

Now, Blair is extra careful when it comes to what videos she posts online.

As for Lily, she is going to continue being a rambunctious 5-year-old.

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