Warning: This post contains graphic images that are Not Safe For Work.
I’m the mum of a 13-year-old boy. He’s not cool but he’s innocent, kind and sweet…. and maybe a little dorky. I’m a strict parent but I’ve let him open an account on Facebook and Instagram – on the condition that I always have his password and he knows that I check both accounts daily.
And this is where the problem starts.
He is not at risk of being stalked by a pedophile. The real danger to my son online is a slow growing tumour of peer pressure and in some cases, bullying. And the filth that permeates so many of the pages that his peers follow.
Last year my little boy was at primary school, laughing and playing (yes, still playing) with his friends at school. This year he’s at high school and it’s all so different.
Now, each time I check his Facebook or Instagram account, I inhale and I feel like I can’t exhale.
I feel like this every day.
The ‘F*ck, Marry, Kill’ game is what has tipped me over the edge tonight. I flip through his Facebook and take a look at the amount of teen girls writing “FMK:” and then listing three names.
It’s up to the recipient of the post to decide which of the three names they would choose to f*ck, marry and kill. My son’s name has come up 3 times. Each time the response has been “kill”.
I know it’s not literal. Of course these are children who are would not physically kill him. But they do choose to push him down the list and tag him. He gets to see where he places. Just like I do.
And it hurts me as his mother.
One viral page on Facebook – which has 264,000 likes already – is a photo taken from behind of a girl in a white mini skirt. She has soiled herself. The comment is: “LIKE = Nasty; Ignore = sexy, cute; Share = Disgusting”. No pressure… but if you ignore this = you think it is sexy.
Then there are the girls who post to Instagram, saying “Follow my friend. She’s such a hottie” and posting photos of their 13-year-old friend… in her bikini.
To me, 13 is still a child. But these photos are innocently provocative and once posted – they are out there for the whole world to see. Privacy settings on these accounts will only stop those who are not really interested in getting through.
I’m trying to be a good Mum and part of me says I should just shut my child’s screen time down – cut him off from this online sh*t.
But if I did that, he would be considered even more uncool and how would I know what was being said about him? Or maybe I’d better off not knowing.
Tonight I’m really hurting. Please help.
What advice can you give this Mamamia reader?