The current hot topic through the media is the appropriateness or otherwise of the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. Now, you might wonder what this has to do with cyber safety, so I will highlight the angle I’m coming from up front …
If your child has a smart phone and your home has a Netflix account, it is exceptionally easy for your child to be accessing age-inappropriate content without your knowledge. Trust me, they do and will, because with all the media surrounding 13 Reasons Why and all the kids talking about it, there is a natural curiosity factor amongst tweens and teens to find out what all the hype is about.
Just in case you haven’t heard about 13 Reasons Why – it is the Netflix teen soap opera based on a novel, about a teen girl who commits suicide, leaving behind a box of cassette tapes explaining why she did it, and these cassette tapes make up the somewhat disturbing story. It has been available to stream on Netflix since March 31, but only in the last few weeks has the mass media decided to make comment about the appropriateness or otherwise of the show.
I’m not about to tell you that your teenager should not be watching the show; however, I am going to highlight that it is rated MA15+ for numerous reasons, which therefore means that your 10-year-old daughter should not be obsessing over it as I know many are, nor should your 14-year-old daughter be secretly viewing it in her bed at night and then having issues sleeping because she is so freaked out.
On the other hand, your 16-year-old daughter might find the show educational but confronting on some level, so I would, therefore, suggest that it is the sort of show to be watched by older teens with an adult and used as a conversation opener for a tough topic to raise with your teenage kids about depression, suicide and the issues they face sometimes in silence as they struggle through this challenging and sometimes difficult age.
From a cyber safety perspective, my advice to parents is that with all the hype surrounding 13 Reasons Why, it’s a good time to check the settings on your child’s device. Have you set up the parental restrictions on their iPhone to exclude age inappropriate videos, music and apps? This is very easy to do within the device settings. Simply go to Settings>General>Restrictions; you will then need to enter a password which your child should not be familiar with, and then you need to remember to adjust settings as they mature. Then you can simply enable and disable as you see fit. Alternatively, you can set up Parental Controls for your entire Netflix account by adding a PIN code that only the adults know or set up a profile for your child that only shows age appropriate shows.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call Lifeline 13 11 14.