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It's 2016: All Parents Must Be Social Media Gurus

If you don't get what your kids are facing, learn.

23/08/2016 2:41 PM AEST | Updated August 23, 2016 15:39
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Sex education has changed forever.

The principal of a Queensland high school, which has just suspended 22 Year 9 students involved in sending nude photos over the internet, is probably as shocked as the rest of us at how his job has changed in just a few short years.

Stephen Loggie, from Palm Beach Currumbin State High, didn't have a compulsory unit in his teaching degree called 'Dealing With Child Porn In The Classroom 101'.

And there would be a huge number of parents watching in despair at the latest installment in how the internet has changed puberty.

Just when we'd gotten our heads around having to talk to our kids about hard core porn before they even start high school, we now have to help them navigate the world of self-publishing from the 'safety' of their own bedrooms.

"With the number of students involved, it was a trickle-feed kind of awareness for us," Loggie told the ABC.

"It took probably three days for us to get a full understanding of exactly the size and gravity of the situation."

"For the parents of females, you can understand that it's a pretty horrific phone call to receive."

I would have thought the parents of any boys caught up in disseminating nude pictures, of themselves or anyone else, would be have been pretty distraught too.

The temptation to make this issue about the behaviour of girls alone, or boys alone, is only going to feed the insatiable outrage machine.

This is not just an issue for girls. And it is not just an issue for boys. If we're serious about the welfare of the current generation of teens, and those coming along after them, then using it as an ideological baseball bat in our Twitter arguments isn't going to achieve a thing.

And nor is outsourcing the solution to teachers.

In an excellent blog written well before this latest case blew up, teacher Siobhan Moore wrote for The Huffington Post Australia about how she now spends a large part of her day.

I then have to make the awkward phone call to a parent explaining that their child has sent through a naked photo to another student and that the police will have to come in and speak to their child about the dangers of being placed on the "sex offenders" list.

I am the one who parents like to abuse, as apparently "How do I know for sure" that their "Daughter would never do such things" because they "Are so very strict on them at home".

The effects of social media sites have impacted so greatly on the time and energies of teachers. As a year 7 co‐ordinator I spent 70 percent of my time talking through issues to do with social media, most of which occurred OUTSIDE school hours.

It's tempting for Generation X parents who spend half their day on Facebook to think they're all over this social media thing.

Heard of ASKFM? No?

All over Snapchat like a boss? Probably not.

Go and read Siobhan's blog. Here's the link again just for good measure. A "trickle-feed awareness" isn't going to cut it any more.

If you really want to help protect your kids, from their own naivete and the inherent risk-taking nature of adolescence amplified to frightening levels by technology, "I don't get it" just isn't good enough.

You're supposed to be the ones they can turn to when they don't know what to do, or how to undo, when it comes to their relationships.

Become unshockable.

Become a social media guru.

Learn their language.

Talk to them about porn.

Talk to them about what they can do to protect themselves.

Talk to them about respect -- for themselves and for each other.

Teach them that taking other people's images and plastering them all over the internet without their consent is not just wrong, it's a crime.

Don't put it down to 'boys will be boys'.

And don't think schools have this sorted, because we've learned this week they are just as baffled by this as we are.

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