My youngest son, Garret, celebrated his 14th birthday last weekend with a pool party. At one point during the party, I noticed all the boys were huddled looked at something on a cell phone. They were laughing and acting suspicious, so I asked what was going on. I got the usual answer “nothing.”
After the party, I asked my son again what the huddling was all about. He told me that one of the girls in his grade had posted a “booty shot” on Instagram. She had deleted the photo from Instagram a minute or two after posting it, but by then, one of the boys had taken a screenshot. The boy then forwarded the photo to all his friends, my son included.
I asked him to let me see it, and when I did, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a picture of a 14-year-old girl on the side of the book taken from behind with her bikini bottom riding up her butt crack. No wonder the boys were mesmerized!
It was at that moment that I realized how the screenshot has changed our teens’ lives. All it takes is an instant to capture and inappropriate photo and blast it out to others. Once a teen posts something (or anyone for that matter) it’s out there. Even Snapchats that disappear after 10 seconds don’t really go away when a screenshot can capture the moment for eternity.
There is no such thing anymore as going back and deleting something off the Internet!
I tried to use this opportunity to teach my son that putting ANYTHING inappropriate on the Internet is a risk. I explained to him the concept of thinking before you post and explained how adults are losing their jobs, their reputations and their families over something they post without thinking first. My son’s argument: “All the girls post booty shots mom. Why are you making a big deal?” (When I Googled teen booty shots, dozens of images came up. Scary!)
“Maybe they are,” I said. “But that doesn’t mean they are using good judgment.”
I’m just not sure my son’s generation gets it. When they live their lives on social media, desperate for likes, I’m not sure that they fear the screenshot as much as they should.
Still, I haven’t given up trying to get my point across.
Have you had any situations like this? Do you think your teen knows what is inappropriate to post online?
Below is a real example from the Internet (one of the more milder ones):