Online safety advice

By: Josh Sanford

While so much is positive about today’s technology, the risk of harm has also increased. Now, more than ever, access to content that is violent or pornographic has become easy and we are seeing the effects of this in our work with young people here on the Hibiscus Coast.

So often we see the attitude towards pornography, in particular, is that it is “harmless” and that watching it is just part of a young person growing up. However, there is plenty of research to show that this is not the case and that, for some, it can even be addictive.
Some of the adverse effects of watching a lot of pornographic content that we are seeing in young people include: poor mental health, including anxiety and depression, more aggression and less intimacy in romantic relationships and an increase in sexual violence and abuse.

In our work at CYC we hear of young people being asked to send nude photos through online platforms to one another. Because it seems as though this is ‘the normal thing to do’, so many young people oblige, not realising that those pictures could be used for bullying and manipulation purposes. We are also encountering cases where young people have got together to watch porn, in groups, with their friends.

The question is – how do we keep our young people safe from patterns of destructive behaviour and inappropriate content in a technological world? How can you set up your family for the best chance of success in having loving and lasting relationships?

Here are a few key tips:

  • Promote conversations with your young people – often these are topics that are awkward to talk about, but it is essential to build trust and have these conversations. Don’t shame or shut down conversations, irrelevant of what you feel is right or wrong. The most powerful thing you can do as a parent is to ensure that your young person feels safe to talk with you honestly.
  • Create some device safety rules that the family agrees on, such as no devices after a certain time at night. Once you’re in bed, have all devices in the lounge.
  • You can get software on both modem and devices to help lockdown devices from being able to access pornographic material. Info:
    www.netsafe.org.nz


For more information on the harmful effects of pornography, including research, statistics and how to get help, visit www.fightthenewdrug.org

Hibiscus Matters’ Youth Blog is an occasional column that is for and about young people. Submissions for the column are welcome – especially from youth. Email the editor, terry@localmatters.co.nz for more information.

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