Oh, horror! I found my girl posing on YouTube

What kind of pathetic excuse for a parent does not know that their child is on Facebook? What sort of mum is it who hasn't even clocked that her 12-year-old daughter has posted a video of herself and a friend dancing in shorts on YouTube?

Er, that would be me. I was absolutely staggered. And, I'm not afraid to admit, deeply embarrassed.

Like most mothers, I pride myself on being extremely safety conscious. You know the terrifying new breed of Paranoid Parent who everyone pokes fun at? Well, they seem dangerously laid-back for my liking.

My daughter has so much luminous clothing for cycling home from school on winter nights that she can be seen from space.

Girl using computer

Allison was shocked to learn her 12-year-old daughter was on Facebook and had posted a video on YouTube showing herself and a friend dancing in shorts (photo posed by model)

I have been known to trail her into a cinema complex and lurk behind the ticket machine as she buys popcorn just in case some paedophiles are having a group outing to High School Musical III.

And yet, entirely unbeknown to me, my child was conducting a lively social life on the internet, where any browsing weirdo could have downloaded the sketch she had performed and proudly displayed on YouTube.

Naturally, when a babysitter pointed this out, I did what any cool, modern parent would do. I had hysterics and threatened to confiscate the little madam's mobile and any other piece of technology for the rest of her life.

Naturally, the daughter did what any cool, modern child would do. She gave poor old Dinosaur Mum a look that mingled equal parts of pity and contempt, sighed her best Disney Channel pre-teen sigh and said: 'Honestly, it's no big deal, Mum. Everyone does it.'

The fact is, she's absolutely right. A report just published by market research company Childwise has discovered 'a major boost to the intensity and independence with which children approach online activities'.

More than half of children have their own computers, and they spend mind-numbing amounts of time bathed in the addictive glow of the screen - up to six hours a day is average.

Traditional activities such as reading, writing and talking barely feature in these young lives. Parents like me may justify giving their children internet access on the grounds it will help with homework, but the survey only proves what trusting idiots we are.

Education is an after-thought for most, with only 9 per cent of youngsters looking up information the last time they went online. Girls such as mine are far more likely to be social networking with goodness knows whom. How should we know? Well, we should. In the week that 15-year-old schoolgirl Laura Stainforth ran away with Robert Williams, 49 - an alleged rapist who previously groomed other girls on the internet - such parental ignorance no longer seems charmingly old-fashioned and trusting. It is positively lethal.

Of course, teenagers have an inalienable right and even a historic duty to pursue interests that scare the hell out of their parents. I can remember my own mum warning that my long hours in front of the TV would give me cancer.

The difference in the 21st century is that pernicious material is much more easily accessible. Our children are also more easily accessible to creeps such as Robert Williams, who used the internet to steal Laura from her family.

With a few clicks of a mouse, our teenagers can access the kind of hardcore pornography that 30 years ago would have been available only under the counter in a Soho sex shop.

Last year, psychologist Tanya Byron warned of a 'digital divide' within families as children mastered the internet and consoles while their parents and grandparents often had little clue about what material they were looking at. I remember reading that report and feeling smug and superior. Not any more.

Dozing while the digital divide deepens is no longer an option.

Jade has no dignity left to lose

With her head covered with bald patches, her eyes full of fear and her arms wrapped protectively around her naked shoulders, Jade Goody looks like a human sacrifice.

It's a deeply disturbing image, and not just because the 27-year-old reality TV star has aggressive cervical cancer.

Since her appearance on Big Brother in 2002, Jade has lived by the media. Sadly, it looks increasingly as though she might die by it, with readers and viewers invited to share her final journey every traumatic step of the way.

Jade Goody

Jade Goody: She just needs love

At what point do the cameras look away out of common decency? After years of gawping at inmates of the Big Brother house as they bitch, flirt, fight and have sex, does the concept of common decency even exist any more?

Critics point out that Jade is happy to invade her own privacy and make money out of it.

But this is a vulnerable young woman, born to a drug addict mother, who has never had anyone to give her the love and affirmation she so badly needs. Pitifully, she seeks those things from the media, whom she treats as confidante and best mate.

Even Jade now seems to be sick of the constant exposure and has started to crave a normal life.

'You know what I want my happy ending to be?' she says. 'When I'm well, I want to go and live in Australia where I'll train as a dental hygienist. I want my boys to walk to school every day in their flip-flops and shorts, and I want us all to wake up every morning to the sound of the sea.'

I hope she achieves that happy ending. Meanwhile, perhaps we could all do the dignified thing and look away now.

Kelly Brook

Kelly Brook: Not much talent

A talent-free zone

Honestly, you would need a heart of stone not to laugh.

Simon Cowell invites Kelly Brook to join the Britain's Got Talent judging panel to create friction with Amanda Holden, but then has to sack her six days into the job because she hasn't got the, er, talent.

Miss Brook may have the glamour of Ava Gardner, but she has the brain of Chance the Gardener, the dimwit played by Peter Sellers in the film Being There.

One onlooker at Britain's Got Talent told Radio 1 that Kelly's comments were so boring the audience started booing.

Not exactly a surprise to those of us who witnessed Kelly's debut on The Big Breakfast back in 1999.

BB scriptwriters were under instruction to avoid giving the new hostess too many big words - such as ' cornflake', 'good morning' and that kind of thing.

They also had to write 'off-the-cuff' quips for her. Kelly, bless her, peered at the autocue with the vacant, aquatic gaze of a stunned mullet.

Still, there's no point blaming her for the latest fiasco. She's just another girl-puppet drafted in to create a ratings-boosting bitchfest. Simon Cowell pulled her strings - until he cut them to save his own reputation.

Move over Jackie, Michelle's O-so-cool

So Obama is human after all.

Not since Diana Spencer charmingly mixed up her husband's four names at her fairy-tale wedding has one person made such a humungous fluff.

You could see the new President's jaw tense as he yesterday stumbled over the oath that made him the leader of the free world.

I liked Mr Eloquence even more for this endearing slip. And he was all the stronger for his beautiful backing group - three generations of formidable females who stood behind him on the day: Michelle Obama, her mother and Michelle's immaculate young daughters.

Barack and Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama with her husband, the new US President

When she promised that she would become Mom-in-Chief, Michelle was sneered at for embracing a lowly role. But Mrs Obama is an incredible matriarch, who sets the highest standards for her girls and will impress upon them that no role is ever lowly if you fulfil it well.

America's new First Lady has been compared with Jackie O, but style is only half the story.

Welcome to the hardworking, high-principled age of Michelle O.

Skewer them by their snouts

When are we going to see some bankers in handcuffs? Perhaps Jamie Oliver, as part of his new pigs crusade, could roast a few dozen of the swine over an open fire.

I know it wouldn't help to get our billions back, but at least it would make us feel better.

As Britain slithers towards the precipice, bankers still seem to be living in another country.

Stuart, a friend who did business with Lehman Brothers before it died of greed, tells me that all the bankers he knew there have got new jobs at other firms.

'They're all laughing because they've negotiated contracts which guarantee their bonuses will be at 2007 levels,' he says grimly.

Bonuses? At 2007 levels? Ordinary people may not understand much about the current financial crisis, but we sure as hell recognise daylight robbery when we see it.

How dare bankers still feather their own nests when almost every branch in the forest turns out to be rotten?

Especially when it emerges that they are harassing vulnerable customers to claw back some of the cash they lent to foreign billionaires.

David Lloyd, who is 63 and dying of lung cancer, was called 762 times in under a year by the Halifax and its agents because he was behind with repayments on a £4,000 loan. That's the bill for a Russian oligarch's pedicurist.

If bankers are in jobs that are subsidised by the British people, then it's high time their salaries - and their ethics - came into line with what the British people find acceptable.

Read my lips: no more bonuses, or you'll be the first to be skewered on Jamie's barbecue.

  • Is romance really next to finance? Scientists claimed this week that women have more orgasms according to the size of their husband's pay packet. Does this mean that frustrated wives can sue Gordon Brown as incomes start to shrivel?

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