Schoolies week (or month, or however long the celebration goes for nowadays) is here again.0 And, as is the case everywhere, media outlets run stories about the dangers our kids are facing. Drinking. Drugs. Debauchery.
But there is one danger that doesn’t get mentioned nearly enough. And it really should: Social media.
Because for all those other things – the drinking, the drugs, the debauchery – are being uploaded to social media networks. Teenagers are being tagged in blurry photos, tweets are being sent about being ‘sooooooo hungover’, and inebriated decisions are being immortalized online.
Because, the internet? It’s forever.
Mamamia publisher Mia Freedman has written previously:
Fortunately for most of us, the idiotic behaviour of our school days endures only in anecdotes. Told at reunions or after a few drinks mostly. But what if they weren’t just funny stories? What if all the dumb decisions we made back then lingered like a virus, infecting every aspect of our future?
Welcome to reality for children and teens where everything they do online has the ability to seriously screw with their lives forever.
As Freedman points out, “Imagine if every journalist, partner, employer, police officer, teacher, political adversary, university administrator, public servant and anyone else with an internet connection (including your children or future children) had access to that information in the time it took to punch your name into a Google search.”
Mia Freedman isn’t the only person concerned by the kinds of content teenagers are posting on social media. Turns out, the President of the United States thinks the same thing. A while ago, Barack Obama warned teenagers about the dangers of social media. From The Telegraph:
“Well, let me give you some very practical tips. First of all, I want everybody here to be careful about what you post on Facebook, because in the YouTube age, whatever you do, it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life,” Mr Obama said.
“And when you’re young, you make mistakes and you do some stupid stuff.
And I’ve been hearing a lot about young people who – you know, they’re posting stuff on Facebook, and then suddenly they go apply for a job and somebody has done a search.”
Not everyone wants to be the President of the United States – or the Prime Minister of Australia, or a public figure of any description – but many kids don’t realise how the information they are putting online might be harming their career prospects.
And they forget, those images aren’t just here for now, they’re here forever.