Do we need to do more to protect the screen generation?

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

An Adelaide educator and author, who says she regularly witnesses children acting out violent and sexually explicit scenes they’ve seen online, believes more needs to be done to protect young children from the online environment.

Karen Keavy is a South Australian educator, counsellor and author who specialises in helping children and adults recover from abuse and neglect. She believes schools need staff members trained to deal with issues rising from unrestricted exposure to the internet.

Ms Keavy cited recent reports about a mother in South Australia’s western suburbs who said her 10-year-old daughter was threatened with rape by her male classmates.

Such incidents, Ms Keavy said, aren’t isolated, and governments, schools and parents need to take the influence of unsupervised internet use more seriously.

- Advertisement -

“I’ve been teaching for 20 years and counselling for eight. I’m in an out of schools all the time, working one-on-one with kids as a counsellor,” she said. “They are seeing adult content – the average age that a child first sees pornography is seven.”

Ms Keavy said children were, too often, left alone with screens.

“But we need to keep up with that technology, we need to be really vigilant about what kids are viewing online,” she said. “There are websites like where parents can go for advice on filters and what to do if your child has viewed disturbing material.”

Making more funding available to schools to train staff who could deal with the impact is important, she said.

- Advertisement -

“But teachers are also under the pump. We’re playing catch up on the basics like maths and literacy after Covid and things like teaching protective behaviours falls by the wayside, which is really sad.”

Although Ms Keavy did acknowledge government-led placement of wellbeing officers into schools, she said it needs to go further.

“It’s a challenging issue, but it’s absolutely necessary,” she said. “We have to help these kids.”

Share This Article
Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]