Students told to stay en garde when online

Cyber safety expert Susan McLean with Mandurah Catholic College students Steven Clune, Niamh Hurley, Caitlin Briggs and Joeseph O'Brien. Picture: Jon Hewson d404989
Cyber safety expert Susan McLean with Mandurah Catholic College students Steven Clune, Niamh Hurley, Caitlin Briggs and Joeseph O'Brien. Picture: Jon Hewson d404989

A Mariners Cove 20-year-old received a harsh lesson in the uncontrollable nature of the online world earlier this year.

Sexting is the name given to the practice of sending messages and images of a sexual nature between mobile devices.

In what seemed like harmless fun, she sent a photo of her naked breasts to her boyfriend.

After they broke up, her Facebook and Instagram accounts were hacked and the photo uploaded for all to see.

‘The damage control is hard – it’s really hard to take one picture down,’ she said.

‘I still don’t have access to my Instagram account and I couldn’t do anything.

‘Facebook was easy to get the password changed, once I let them know my account was hacked. From there I took the photo down myself.’

Susan McLean is a cyber safety expert. She was a police officer for 27 years and handled her first cyber bullying case in 1994.

Ms McLean was the first Victoria Police Officer appointed to a position involving cyber safety and young people

She recently gave a lecture at Mandurah Catholic College on internet safely.

Ms Mclean admits it is hard to discourage teenagers to take part in behaviour like sexting and much of the time it is about damage control.

‘A 14/15-year-old can’t understand the consequences of their actions,’ she said.

‘Kids want to keep people happy and have everyone like them.

‘It’s good, well adjusted kids who are doing it, it’s kids from all backgrounds. Parents need to be aware and if as a parent you ignore this, it’s guaranteed you’ll have issues.’

Ms McLean said Facebook is a good social networking tool but apps like Instagram and Snapchat should be avoided, as these accounts are easily hacked and hard to control afterward.

In our sexting case earlier, the victim recommends teenagers avoid the practice entirely.

‘I felt pretty embarrassed when it happened,’ she said.

‘It doesn’t worry me so much now, but I hated losing control.

‘I thought about legal action, but it was too hard and life happens.’