By Nomali Cele
Emma Sadleir is a digital law expert. You probably didn’t think that was a field but it is. The more of us got access to the internet and its many digital platforms, the more law we needed. From cyberbullying to revenge porn, the internet can be a hotbed for illegal activities. After Sadleir’s successful debut, “Don’t film Yourself Having Sex,” Sadleir and her co-author, Dr Lizzie Harrison, have come out with a new book aimed at teenagers. “Selfies, Sexts and Smartphones – A Teenager’s Online Survival Guide” is filled with advice that will help teens navigate the digital minefield.
Other than the accuracy of the information Emma Sadleir imparts, the tone of the book is important. It’s informative and engaging – dare we say, even cool in places? The co-authors get the information across to their teenage audience without any of the tactics parents tend to employ. There is no emotional blackmail or intimidation.
There are many memorable scenes the cult classic teen movie about a girl who moves to suburban America after living abroad with her research zoologist parents, “Mean Girls.” In it, a gym class teacher doubling as a health teacher says to his sex education class: “Do not have sex, you will get pregnant and die” and shakes a box of condoms at the class.
For most parents, the go-to reasoning when warning their children of the dangers that lurk in the world – including its digital parts – is to go the “because I said” so route. Of course, you may remember from your days as a young person that “I told you so,” tends to only modify your behaviour in your parents’ presence.
The aim should be that your child, especially when they’re in their teens, is well-informed. Give them the information they need to make the right decision because, regardless of how you try to shelter them, they will find some information out there in the world. If your teen is online, they’ve likely seen and sent it all.
Instead of worrying about bad the influence of friends and girlfriends, empower your teen with information that puts your mind at ease as they navigate the world. For instance, does your teen know that sharing nude content of themselves with others can lead to prosecution for making, possessing and distributing child pornography? Both teens on either end of the exchange are in danger of prosecution. Not to mention the cruel and embarrassing things people can do with those images.
It can be hard to know how to broach the subject of digital safety with a teen who’s all hormones, which is why Saturdays with Jenny will be doing it for you this weekend. The discussion will feature Emma Sadleir and educational psychologist, Dr Tshipiso Matentjie, as the experts. There will also be teens and parents.
If you would like to open the communication channels with your teen about their digital habits, RSVP to [email protected] or listen from home and join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #16Conversations.
Let’s get talking and keep our teens informed.