Rich KidsWith the current obsession with television shows following the lives of the privileged and wealthy, it is somewhat unsurprising that Social Media groups which offer a sneak peak at the opulent lifestyles of the young and rich have gone viral. Perhaps the best known such group is “Rich Kids on Snapchat”.

The idea behind the group is that the young and wealthy send photos of their extravagant lifestyles the “best” of which are then posted online. The photos include piles of cash, sports cars and private planes.

The Facebook page “What Happens at Private School Goes On Snapchat” has gained over 255,000 likes and growing.

Predictably, the phenomenon has caused outrage. In response, the unnamed Rich Kids on Snapchat founder posted a message stating that his own Snapchat posts were meant to “inspire other young people”, as the 17 year old claims to have begun earning his fortune from the age of 12, starting “with only £500. “

While the Facebook page, displaying a range of people’s images, may have been created for “entertainment purposes only”, such posts have a serious implication. The consequences could be very serious for those wealthy teens, and their families, where potentially inflammatory images appear which include identifying information such as faces, car registrations and locations.

One 19 year old, who frequently posted about his lavish lifestyle and who was featured on Tumblr site “Rich Kids on Instagram”, has already run into trouble, having had several luxury cars from his father’s rental business subsequently set alight by vandals, causing over £500,000 worth of damage to his father’s business.

Another featured ‘rich kid’ was Alexa Dell, daughter of Dell Inc. CEO Michael Dell, who posted an image of her brother tucking into a feast onboard a private jet, bound for Fiji. She also used her Twitter account to regularly post details of her location, complete with GPS location tagging- somewhat undermining the annual US$2.7 million her father reportedly spends on family security.  Upon discovering this, Alexa’s account was removed and her image has been taken down.

It’s not just security issues that these images throw up; a family’s reputation is at stake too. In times where corporate greed juxtaposes against mass unemployment posts by a teen bragging about the lavish lifestyle of his or her CEO parent who has recently made redundancies or been the recipient of a sizeable bonus can easily catch the eye of a journalist on the hunt for a story – as can any images posted by a naive child who has a parent in the public eye.  That’s not to mention what prospective employers, who are increasingly doing social media checks, might surmise.

There is a conversation to be had between the generations. The narcissistic modern culture of social media does not sit well with the more traditional views of quiet achievement and guarded privacy.

The success of social media, and what the new generation can achieve, is exciting. Families need to ensure that the younger generation, through naïve arrogance, do not put social media to negative use and understand that what happens in private school does not always stay in private school.

This post originally appeared on the Himsworth Legal Blog and is reproduced with permission and thanks