“No time to waste” for kids and social media


Written by: Professor Jeffery Brand, Bond University

The recent distribution of explicit, AI-generated images of students at a Victorian school has turbocharged the debate on banning children from social media. 

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is all-in on a ban on those under 16, pledging age verification checks on social media platforms.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese seems to be headed in the same direction. 

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Perhaps they will reach a bipartisan position, although any legislation would be incredibly difficult to enforce. 

My advice to parents is, don’t wait for the government to act. Your kids, your responsibility. 

Most parents wouldn’t let a 12-year-old sit in front of the TV all day, yet they give them a phone to which the child can be glued 24/7. 

Unfortunately, some of us turn a blind eye to our kids’ phone habits because we are tired of the fight. 

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If the events of the past few weeks have you rethinking your children’s social media habits, here’s where to start:

Firstly, master the art of negotiation. 

Meeting teenagers halfway is important so both sides can share a small victory and keep the lines of communication open. 

Think back to when we first started reading books with our kids. 

We would discuss the books with them and encourage interaction and talk. 

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So, we already have patterns where we have communication as part of our family. 

These patterns are critical as our child enters their teenage years and a whole new range of subjects to discuss arises, with social media just one of them. 

I caution against those parents who seek to be their child’s best friend. Don’t. 

The reality is a child needs parents to be parents: mature, empathetic, rule setting and rule-enforcing. 

In the context of social media, it’s important for parents to be computer literate to keep up with their children’s use of online material. 

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Understand how privacy locks and blocks work. 

Today’s kids are digital natives – you need to be able to keep up. 

I have worked for the Australian Commonwealth Classification Board and the Australian Communications and Media Authority and I recommend some easy and effective parenting advice on the eSafety Commission website.

There is a wide range of topics focusing on how to keep our kids safe online, and downloadable resources to help parents start the chat about online safety issues and strategies. 

After you have the tools, it’s all up to you. 

Professor Brand is an expert in the fields of communication and media. He will be sharing his knowledge during Bond University’s Open Day on Saturday, 27 July, from 10am – 2pm. 

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