I don’t know about you but when I grew up life was very different than it is for the youth of today. I look at the technology today and compare it to what I had in my teen years and I am amazed. Even more so, I am unnerved, concerned and sometimes frightened.
Actually, to some degree or another we are all concerned with technology and we should be. But my focus today is on the subject of young adult photography and the internet. Before I go into details, let me ask you to take a moment and think about something. Look back on your years as a teenager and think of one or two dangerous or stupid things that you did that were really dumb things to do now that you think about it.
I am not going to share with you some of the stupid things I did but I’ll tell you this, I would never do them again and I darn sure don’t want my teenagers doing them. Now let’s fast forward to the here and now. There are cameras everywhere, portable cameras, security cameras, traffic cameras and children, teens and adults with cameras on their phones.
As with any technology there is a list of the good and bad things about it. For most of us who are photographers we usually are in the state of mind to capture and share photography moments with others. Our young adults on the other hand, may become subject to the malice of others on the web. This is a subject that we need to be prepared to discuss with the youth of today and tomorrow.
My story today is one that was shared with me by a close friend of mine, if it can happen with his children it can happen with yours. My friend has a teenage daughter who is in high school, she has one of those phones that also takes pretty high quality images. It was summer break and this young girl and her friend were hanging out together at her home, just having some fun girl time.
The parents are fine with this because both young girls get along well together and usually stay out of trouble. On this particular day however, they decided to have fun with the camera phone. Like most girls they make their silly girl faces and take their pictures and post them on facebook. These are typical things to do until the dad sees pictures of the girls kissing each other on the cheek.
Now normally this would not be a problem, but because some people tend to be vicious and spread rumours this could be a problem. The father was angry with what he saw not because what they were doing was wrong, it was because these girls could really set themselves up for harassment from friends and more importantly, from enemies.
So the dad decided to do something a bit different with this situation. After everyone had dinner he called the two young girls to his computer and told them he wanted to talk to them about something. He pulled up his daughters facebook page and went to her recent photos, he told them he was not mad at them but he was very concerned about what he was seeing.
He proceeded to show the girls how the image could be downloaded and reposted to another website. He explained to them that things could be said about them on facebook and other websites that just are not true. He had a discussion with them telling them that even though what they were doing was for fun and it was innocent, he told them that there are perverts on the internet that spend hours online looking for pictures like these so they can do bad things with them. Things like photoshop their heads on to the bodies of unclothed women to create something that they did not do, and then post those pics on the web.
Then he explained how the photos could be tagged to show up in web searches. The dad told them, on their own time to go to Google, click on images, search on the key words “lesbians kissing,” then change the setting from “safe search moderate” to “off” and see what the results are.
The dad went on to say that just because you have a lot of friends on facebook the most important thing to remember is that the internet is not always your friend. As you both continue to learn and grow in this cruel world you need to make sure that you do not become subject to the harm of others because of what was innocent fun in the beginning.The dad did not even ask, he just looked at the girls for a moment. They looked at each other and each said, “we should delete those pictures!”
Now this is just one example of things that could go wrong with cell phone cameras. Unfortunately there are way too many bad stories of children who end up in bad situations because of internet predators or any number of the evil doers of this world. It is good to teach our children how to take a good photo. It is good for them to be able to capture memories for their future. It is good for children to have fun with photography.
It is important that we teach our children of the dangers of technology also. Don't let our children become statistics to the dark side of the internet. Spend time with them, teach them, help them. Be there friend on facebook and in life, but first and foremost, be their parent.