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
‘ 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