“We need law and policy reform that clarifies young people’s rights and responsibilities in relation to producing and sharing digital images and adults need better resources to help them support young people to make ethical decision around online and mobile media”.
Growing up, the temptations of building your ‘social status’ through the never-ending social media channels are incredibly great. Teens and youth see these platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tinder as an easily accessible channel to gain confidence, build friendships and ultimately, be noticed. I know from young girls perspective, the amount of ‘likes’ one gets on a photo can either be deemed ‘embarrassing’ or knight you the ‘queen bee’.
We must comes to terms with the fact, however, that social media and the forever evolving technology that goes with it shows no signs of slowing down – ever! So, rather than avoiding the inevitable, we may as well ask ourselves, ‘how can we protect our youth online?’ because unfortunately, knowledge only develops with age and maturity.
Youth’s engagement online can range from ‘sexting’ to crime on Facebook – relatively minor offences to extreme. For those of you who aren’t aware, ‘sexting’ involves sending semi or completely naked photographs however it has become clear by Dr Albury that “Confusion around current laws deters some young people from reporting threatening or unethical behavior”.
Perhaps an alternative is providing adults with better educational resources to help them support young people? Do adults need these resources to help them understand youth’s interaction and use of digital technologies? However, is it enough to avoid the extreme cases?
In 2013, a 20 year-old man was charged with the murder of a 15 year-old girl after her remains were discovered in a wooded area. The pair met on Facebook and after he provided her with an alias name, she mysteriously disappeared on the weekend they had planned to meet.
Bear in mind that protecting children online is an ongoing issue because as the technologies evolve, so too does the possibilities of the danger and exposure youth’s are becoming vulnerable too.
We have just recently launched our Protecting Children Online conference where the aim is to strengthen cyber safety – an event that is not to be missed!