Two clicks away from innocence
The effects of social media on young minds
MELBOURNE, VIC June 27, 2011 – MELBOURNE child behaviour consultant and successful blogger Nathalie Brown has witnessed first-hand the devastation “safe’’ social media sites have caused young minds. Through her business Easy Peasy Kids, she’s seen behavioural issues in teenagers aggravated by comments posted on social media sites like Facebook. She knows of innocent children being exposed to obscene language and provocative photos. And it’s easily accessed.
It took her one click on a 14-year-old girl’s Facebook profile and onto some of her “900 friends’’ to amass a string of inappropriate and offensive language. Nathalie said teenagers were not adults. “Young minds are at a crucial developmental stage, which will shape their future adult personalities.’’
She said the real issue was innocent children who were “just two clicks away’’ from reading comments like the following. Boy 16: “I never raped anyone, get your story right b—-. You were that drunk s—, having sex with everything that moved…” And, Boy 15: “(Girl’s name) best root. Knows how to make your night, takes it up the a–. Also knows how to use her hands. 10/10.” These were found not by searching for the words, but by simply clicking on a teenager’s profile.
Nathalie stresses she is not anti-Facebook, being an avid user personally and for her business. She also understands it is not Facebook which has made some teenagers morally devoid. However, with social media used in classrooms via mobile phones, pages setup bragging about who has had sex with who and extremely provocative and offensive profile photos, she believes measures need to be put in place to protect the innocent. She would like to see:
- · Parents catching up to teenagers and taking active responsibility for them.
- · Parents to have a greater duty of care for minors.
- · Facebook pages for those under 12 shut down.
- · For parents of children 13 and older to become aware of who their child’s friends are, to talk to them and help guide them through inappropriate material.
- · Facebook to implement two levels of relationships – ‘friends’, for those who are real friends; and ‘Connections’, for those people you may or may not want to know. This would restore the definition of friendship and allow everyone to discern between the two groups, in their interactions and in their minds.
- · Facebook to provide an automatic filter to block out or obscure obscene words in real time. The filter should also be activated automatically for all accounts belonging to minors.
- · Facebook to close down all profiles which belong to known underage users and all profiles with extreme offensive language.
- · Facebook’s custom privacy and security settings to be inaccessible by a minor.
Nathalie tried Facebook’s social reporting and other various methods to contact the site, to no avail. She said Facebook say it’s up to the parents to be responsible for what their children do, but some teenagers do not have the support or come from a family which is tech savvy. “In fact, Facebook’s own security site tells parents that their children will most likely know more about Facebook than them, and they should ask the children for guidance.’’
Nathalie Brown is a child behavior consultant, teen mentor and parent counselor with 15 years experience working with children and their families Australia-wide. She deals with everything from 15-month-old toddler tantrums to teenage angst. She is a wife, mum to a 15-year-old daughter and six-year-old son and cares for her elderly mother. Nathalie blogs at www.easypeasykids.com.au.
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