Parents: We'd blame ourselves if our kids did it

Parents: We'd blame ourselves if our kids did it

Anything you are too embarrassed to let your parents see, you shouldn't put on a phone or a computer.

That is the sentiment shared by the parents The New Paper on Sunday spoke to about young people sharing nude selfies online.

Writer and editor Theresa Tan, 46, says social media has become today's "new playground".

"When we were teens, it was a matter of making out at a function so that your friends see and tell everyone. Now the way to show off is to do it on FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr," adds the mother of three kids, two of whom are in their teens.

Lawyer Stefanie Yuen-Thio, 44, agrees that the teenage years are when young people feel the need to conform and to be cool.

"I think teenagers take risqué selfies to fit in with the 'in' crowd, without realising that one moment's impetuosity can lead to a lifetime of regret," she says.

"We parents have the responsibility to have open discussions with our kids about why it's a bad idea. But what teenager is going to respond well to parental edict?"

Mrs Darren Ong, an executive with a multinational corporation, says it is also a means of seeking attention, but from the wrong quarters.

"Some teens want to make up for the attention they lack at home. For some, they may not even care about consequences, as long as they achieve instant gratification," says the 43-year-old mother of two.

Public relations executive Lynda Moo, 48, says it is a matter of moral standards and values.

"In today's society, the younger generation is exposed to influences, which unfortunately make exposing oneself less of the exception," she says.

"Naked selfies are a prime example of not only these standards, however low they may be, but also an acceptance of how they'll be circulated."

Ms Tan says these are today's "street values" among the young.

"Just as virginity was the value girls and boys of our time wanted least to have, these days it's the same - prudishness is a negative value," she says.

Engineer Edgar Look, 52, a father of three daughters, says if they did it for a dare, then "it's a dumb move as it would give the receiver of the nudies the upper hand over you".

When it comes to their own children, all the parents say they will first blame themselves should the kids indulge in naked selfies.

Ms Moo said she will not know what she will do if she were to catch either of her girls doing this.

"It's really not something I've thought about nor can envisage. I hope I've taught them enough to know how privacy can be so easily invaded and not to expose themselves to such dire consequences," she adds.

"I will freak out and will blame myself for not doing enough to prevent it," Mrs Ong says, adding that she may even make a police report.

Ms Yuen-Thio says she will not pre-judge but sit down with her son and ask what he thought about the girl and why she did it.

"If she did it to impress him, I would ask him to consider if he's doing anything to create the impression that this kind of behaviour would be attractive to him. If however she's doing it because she likes to, I would discourage him from spending time with her and insist that he delete the photos and let her know that he had done so."

Ms Tan says she would "have a talk and together with my husband, address what we have seen and ask for an explanation".

"We will then set the boundaries again - no naked pictures ever and explain why it's wrong and how they are hurting themselves. We would insist on meeting the girlfriend or boyfriend and parents to talk," she adds.

juditht@sph.com.sg


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