Toowoomba mum's concern over 'sexualised' teens
YOUR SAY: THIS is a hot topic lately, and one that makes me see red every time I hear that a child has taken their life due to cyber bullying or has been lured by an adult who posed as a child.
When my 13-year-old daughter asked me if she could set up Instagram and Snapchat accounts, I initially refused. But on reflection, I agreed to her request with one condition, I would monitor her account continually.
I justified this by making her aware of the dangers of social media and explained that people do not always present themselves honestly on the internet. I told her that people hide behind their devices to bully others.
I advised her to only accept "follow" requests from people that she knew and spoke to. I stressed that these sites are not to be used as a popularity contest and that having 50 followers, or 1500 followers does not make you any better than the next person.
I am the first to admit that I was not the perfect child growing up, but the mistakes I made as a child, I certainly do not want my children to make and am trying my best to guide them down the right path to becoming good people.
I also know there is no such thing as the perfect child, or the perfect parent for that matter.
What makes my blood boil is when my daughter shows me photos of girls she follows, and knows, who have posted half naked photos of themselves posing in a sexual way, or taken and shared photos of their breasts with a massive hickey, or even their breasts squeezed into a bra that is quite obviously too small.
This at the age of 13 and 14? Where is the parental guidance and monitoring of these young girls' accounts?
What they think may only be seen on their social media can easily be screenshot and shared, and before you know it, your daughter's half naked body is all over the internet.
These girls are the first to wonder why they are being called "sl*ts", why they were touched inappropriately, hit on, or are too scared to tell their parents that they could possibly be pregnant as they agreed to have sex in that change room for fear of losing their boyfriend.
Then there are the children who post photos of themselves self-harming, posting their photo with the caption "Will anyone miss me if I kill myself?", and then there's the explicit language so frequently used in an effort to intimidate, we are all too well aware of the results of cyber bullying.
No, I do not regret letting my daughter open Instagram and Snapchat accounts as she is far more sensible than I was at her age and she has respect for herself, knows what is appropriate and has now been educated on the dangers of social media.
What I do believe is there should be more education on this topic and we as parents should always monitor our child's social media accounts.
You cannot rely solely on schools and the media to educate your child about this, it should also be done at home.
Many of my friends watch their children's social media accounts carefully and regularly but there are many others who do not.
For the sake of our children's safety and reputation, we need to pay more attention to what our children are posting.
If this warning can prevent even one child falling victim to the evil that hides behind some of these sites, then as parents we have done the right thing.