No matter how difficult the conversation, it is futile to ignore the subject matter and assume that young people are always shielded from explicit content – evidently this is not the case. We cannot shy away from discussing it with our children.
We are living in a world where influencers, with millions of followers – many of them impressionable young women – post ‘sexy’ selfies in their underwear and have normalised such behaviour. Never has it been more important to expose young girls to a wide range of positive role models and to help them identify with successful figureheads in the worlds of business, sport, media and charity, as well as celebrities. There is so much opportunity for young women to succeed in a wide range of industries today and we need to harness these prospects, make sure girls can see the bigger picture, and not feel trapped in a social media popularity contest where the more provocative the picture, the more ‘likes’.
Whether it is sexting or cyberbullying, problems that arise from online communication rarely have a purely technological-based solution. The human element is vital and steering young women and children safely through the hazards of the digital age is a challenge that requires a lot of adult guidance.
We cannot stop the issues such as sexting from cropping up, but we can equip children with the right knowledge and skills to deal with it. The earlier we tackle them, the sooner we create a safer online experience.