If your child has access to any social media platform, it’s no longer a case of if they’ll be exposed to sex – but when. Use these 4 social media dos and don’ts for kids to help guide them when using social media.
The time for complacency is over for parents who think their kids will never be exposed to pornography, and speaking to media law specialist, Emma Sadleir, will send chills down your spine.
Together Emma and Tamsyn de Beer run a social media law consultancy and are co-authors of Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex: and Other Legal Advice For the Age of Social Media. They might already have defined ‘porn’ to your Grade 5 in one of their school talks – if he’s lucky enough to be in a school that’s woken up to how powerful and dangerous full access to social media is. Thankfully, Emma feels most of our schools have.
‘Many parents have a false sense of security that their kids are physically right under their nose, and yet they’re oblivious to them walking a lonely road in cyberspace, along with people whose sole goal is soliciting child porn.’
Once they have an ‘in’ with one child who recommends them to all their friends, their pickings are plentiful. According to Emma, kids as young as 9 have been swept up in sharing explicit images as a kind of evolutionary next step in a game of ‘doctor, doctor’.
- Talk to your child
Vicki Shotbolt, who heads up Parent Zone in the UK, advises to start talking to your children as ‘you’ll be surprised what [young] children will share with you’. Like crossing a busy road, it’s our responsibility to convey the equally hazardous pitfalls of online society.
Your child can never ‘unsee’ what they’re exposed to, and home filters won’t stop them searching ‘SEX’ at a friend’s house. Filters aren’t infallible either – try searching ‘Prince Albert’ and you’ll see – but the need for honest and open discussions surrounding awkward topics like sexting and porn has never been as vital as it is now.
- Legally speaking
Kids need to understand that the solicitation, creation, possession and transmission of explicit and pornographic material involving under 18s is a legal offence. To show a child under 18 explicit or pornographic material is illegal and that child is classified a victim.
Children under 18 guilty of sharing child-based pornographic content are perpetrators themselves; and schools and parents who become aware of sexting or transmission of explicit or pornographic material have a duty to report it to the police within 24 hours.
4 social media dos and don’ts for kids
- Beware of being ‘groomed’ by someone who seems harmless – not everyone has innocent intentions. Tell a parent or friend if you suspect anybody, sooner rather than later.
- Never take, send, or allow anyone else to take naked pictures of you. In digital format, the risk exists that the pictures will go into the cloud, your phone could get stolen, or you could become a victim of ‘revenge porn’.
- Your parents and filters are there to protect you. Ignore them and open you and your family up to unimaginable danger and unhappiness.
- Beware of anonymity. Sexual bravado and aggressive behaviour online damages your own self-respect, dignity and credibility. You should be one and the same person online and off.
SOURCE: Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex: and Other Legal Advice for the Age of Social Media R240 (Penguin) by Tamsyn de Beer and Emma Sadleir, available at good book stores.