Child and adolescent experts warn parents about new forms of social media, leading to a plague of sexual harassment against girls as young as 10. Yellow, Live.ly and other popular sites identified as unsafe.
Dr Michael Carr-Greg has spoken out to the ABC about the new forms of social media that are leading to growing sexual harassment of girls of younger and younger ages.
Image: Flickr Brad Flickinger
Dr Carr-Gregg was recently visited by a distraught 10-year-old and her mother. The girl was coerced into sending an image of her body to a boy in her class.
"He coerced her in a series of six or seven messages, and finally she did," said Dr Carr-Gregg. "And then he sent it off to 37 of his mates."
The result was catastrophic.
Dr Carr-Gregg reported that this client's age was not surprising, that a growing number of primary school-age children were experiencing such problems.
He counsels a girl aged between 10 and 12, who is suffering as a result of social media — she had been bullied, or had a "compromising photo" uploaded — every eight weeks.
"But it's probably a hell of a lot more common than that."
Dr Carr-Gregg's concerns were echoed by cyber safety expert Susan McLean
I have seen children groomed by predators [on social media sites]" — including some as young as eight and nine.
"I had one parent tell me, late last year, her 12-year-old daughter had been groomed on Yellow to share naked photos with someone who was much older."
McLean warns parents that the social media site 'Yellow' is the childhood equivalent of Tinder. There are also concerns about the site Live.ly
Live.ly, the live stream function of Musical.ly, which is extraordinarily popular among primary school-age girls, "is full of predators and those streaming porn and self-harm", said Ms McLean.
Experts say that parents are too often unaware of the dangers of social media, believing common sites like Instagram to be benign or safe. They also warn that schools are not mandated to support or teach kids about cyber safety and school leaders may also be unaware of the issues.
Many primary schools are failing to teach their students about the dangers of social media, a role that many experts, including Dr Carr-Gregg, believe should be mandatory.