TLDR: How do you handle your kids use of social media and are we doing enough as a society to keep kids safe ?
The majority of my working life has been working with customer data for big businesses. I know what is kept and what it can be used for. I may be a little paranoid but that doesn't mean they aren't watching.
I have three kids (17, 14 and 9) and whilst the girls have no interest in social media other than pinterest, it's a different story with my 14yo son.
Most of it is just a thirst for more information. His primary interests are overseas with little to no media attention in NZ. But peer-pressure is huge. If you're not following 1000+ people you must be a leper. If you don't reply to a PM immediately questions are asked about your friendship. If you're not seen to be liking the same posts as everyone else the same happens. If you're not watching porn you're a freak. My son made all of these comments when we talked about it recently.
I've seen multiple Instagram accounts of teenage girls which make me blush, and shock my wife. We've had the roastbusters saga and the Wellington College FB issues earlier this year.
What makes a 14yo girl post half naked photos of herself for the world to see? What are we doing with our boys to teach them to respect women ? What is their porn consumption like ? Is that what our kids find acceptable now and we don't know it ? I've spoken to several parents in the last week and not one of them has any idea of what their kids are doing online.
For me, education is more important than restriction. We've just received an email from his college asking if we would like to install software on his phone which tracks everything he does via 3G. They already restrict inappropriate sites on the school network but 80% of the parents who responded wanted education and not restriction. According to the creators of the software we are the first college to not be interested in what they offer.
Are we doing enough as parents, as relatives, as teachers, as a society to keep our kids safe ?
Or has the horse already bolted and restriction is the only option because it's become too hard ?