Teens need to be 'cyber-smart'

Friday 29 Nov 2013
Dr Emma Rush.A Charles Sturt University (CSU) researcher is urging parents and teenagers to make use of new resources to help young people make smart decisions about what they share online.
Dr Emma Rush from CSU's School of Humanities and Social Sciences is nationally recognised for her research on the sexualisation of children.
Dr Rush said a series of guides released today by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) provides useful information about cyber-bullying, social networking and sexting.
"Sexting describes the use of technology such as mobile phones and social media to share sexual photos or videos," said Dr Rush.
ACMA's Like, post, share—short report 2 found that 13 per cent of 16 to 17 year olds reported that within their group of friends, either they or someone else had sent sexually suggestive images to someone else.
Dr Rush said this represents a small minority of young people but it's a practice that can have devastating and long lasting consequences.
"Once an image is out of your control things can very quickly become un-safe and distressing in a range of ways," she said. "As young people who have had images forwarded without their consent have quickly found out."
Dr Rush said research from the United Kingdom and the United States has found that the most common form of sexting amongst teens was between people who were not in a relationship but where one of the parties hoped to be in a relationship with the person they were sharing the images with.
"Typically it is young women who are pressured to send a sexually explicit photograph but it's a double edged sword. If they comply they're branded as a slut and if they don't they're considered frigid.
"It's also linked to the wider problem of the sexualisation of young people, as it suggests the most important thing about a person is their sex appeal," said Dr Rush.
She said it's encouraging to see ACMA creating practical resources to help families deal with the challenges confronting young people in the digital environment.


Media contact: Emily Malone, (02) 6933 2207

Media Note:
Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews. Dr Emma Rush is based at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at CSU in Wagga Wagga and is also a member of the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.