Peo­ple need to know the rules of so­cial me­dia. We need to teach our young­sters how to use it safely so that it won’t bite them later on

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - Opinion - judy mur­ray FOL­LOW ME ON TWIT­TER @JUDYMURRAY

‘ Thoughts and com­ments can be out there for­ever

Last week, MP Jared O’Mara hit the head­lines for all the wrong rea­sons.

Ho­mo­pho­bic and sex­ist com­ments he wrote on­line be­tween 2002 and 2004 were un­earthed.

Since then, al­le­ga­tions have been made about more re­cent be­hav­iour.

He isn’t the first to be caught out thanks to so­cial me­dia and you can be sure he won’t be the last.

It is such a huge part of life now and there should be more ed­u­ca­tion about the pros and cons of it in schools and univer­si­ties.

Think back to when you were young. We all had times when we were try­ing to show off and got caught up in near-the-knuckle ban­ter.

For most of us, it was said in the mo­ment and that was it over with.

For a gen­er­a­tion that has grown up with so­cial me­dia, their thoughts and com­ments can be out there for­ever.

We need to use a mea­sure of com­mon sense for young peo­ple who have grown up us­ing the likes of Face­book and Twit­ter.

We don’t want to cre­ate a catas­tro­phe down the line for them, be­cause of some­thing they said many years ago.

Maybe schools and par­ents could have been more on the ball. Some of our chil­dren were big users of so­cial me­dia be­fore their par­ents re­ally knew what it was about.

Thanks to so­cial me­dia, young peo­ple are grow­ing up with much more of a spot­light on them.

Jamie and Andy grew up in the pub­lic eye and that isn’t easy ei­ther.

They were play­ing ten­nis as a hobby. Then Andy won the US Open Ju­niors when he was 17.

I re­mem­ber fly­ing back home and there were lots of pho­tog­ra­phers and jour­nal­ists at the air­port to meet us.

Then, when we got home, there were more out­side our house. In my naivety, I couldn’t fig­ure out how they’d found out where we lived.

The whole thing was mind-blow­ing and there was no one to pre­pare us for it. So­cial me­dia ed­u­ca­tion re­ally can work. Dur­ing the 2012 Olympics, there were sem­i­nars and work­shops, not just for ath­letes but for coaches and par­ents too.

Ev­ery­one learned how to use it – and had ex­am­ples of both the pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive sides of so­cial me­dia, too. It was re­ally use­ful.

We need to keep re­mind­ing our young peo­ple that po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers look through what they are put­ting out there on so­cial me­dia.

And if they are post­ing drunken pic­tures, us­ing racist or foul lan­guage it can re­ally ham­per their chances.

But let’s not pun­ish a whole gen­er­a­tion who have been guinea pigs for the rest of us.

Ed­u­cat­ing young ones on so­cial me­dia can work

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