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 upfront…. 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 and graphic 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, that’s for you to decide. 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 15 year old son be secretly viewing it in his bed at night and then having issues sleeping because he 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 when age appropriate as per the rating, with an adult! Then parents would be wise to use it as a conversation opener of a difficult topic to raise with your teenage kids…depression, suicide and the many issues they face sometimes in silence as they struggle through this challenging and sometime 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 that you need to remember to adjust settings as they mature). Then you can simply enable and disable apps and controls 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 and enable only age appropriate shows.
If you or someone you know if having suicidal thoughts, call Lifeline in Australia on 13 11 14.
Cyber Mum Australia