Community, Education

Warning over online abuse

Bohally Intermediate School acting principal Nicky Cameron-Dunn. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

A Marlborough principal is warning parents to be on their guard when it comes to social media as staff grapple with increasing fallout.

Bohally Intermediate School staff have sent out an email to parents highlighting the harm social media can cause.

Acting principal Nicky Cameron-Dunn says she has seen a rise in the number of social media related issues students are dealing with.

Nicky says her personal advice is for no students to use social media platforms until they are 14 years old.

“It’s much more of an issue now than ever before and it’s only going to get worse.

“My personal advice would be for no students to use social media platforms at this age but ultimately it is up to parents to decide that for their own child.”

Using social media outside of school is having a flow on effect at school, says Nicky.

All mobile phones must be handed in to the school office at the start of the school day.

The school also uses blocking devices to help keep pupils safe.

But what they are accessing at home is spilling over at school, Nicky warns.

“They come into school and are emotionally upset, have anxiety and do not feel valued.

“Using these platforms to destroy others and spread rumours is inappropriate and they’re too young to understand the ramifications and reflect on what they’ve done.”

The school also sent out a link to parents to go to for advice.

But social media savvy children are going to great lengths to keep their online activities off the parental radar.

“We know that students often have numerous accounts yet may only show one to their parents which looks okay,” Nicky says.

Monitoring social media use is key to ensuring it is only used positively, she says.

The minimum signup age for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube is 13.

Net safe NZ say a child’s social and emotional capability is still developing and they will find it difficult to identify and deal with challenges.

“If your child is under 13 and keen to use social media, consider their capability to manage potential online challenges before setting up a profile.

For more advice about staying safe online visit  https://www.netsafe.org.nz/

  • A third of New Zealand teens (33%) spend 4 or more hours online in an average day.
  • 4 in 10 currently use 5 or more social media platforms. • 1 in 4 would be devastated if they had no access to digital technologies for a month.
  • Nearly 8 in 10 agree “there are a lot of things on the internet that are good for people my age”.
  • There are gender differences in teens’ use of digital devices, the activities they carry out online, and their preferences for specific social media platforms.
  • Teens regard themselves as confident technology users. Over 4 in 10 rarely or never seek support regarding an online or technical problem
  • Overall, teens highly rate their knowledge of online safety, but over 1 in 10 (13%) do not know much about it.
  • Just over half (56%) agree it is helpful to set age restrictions and block access to content.
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