ABC(Australia):-Parents must get tough about social media use in the wake of the tragic death of 14-year-old Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, a leading Australian child psychologist says, warning children under 12 should not be on social media at all.
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, a youth mental health expert who is known for writing books like The Princess Bitchface Syndrome, said children under 12 should be banned from using social media.
“It is as simple as that — yet I go to primary schools right across Australia and the principals are pulling their hair out because the parents aren’t enforcing this,” Dr Carr-Gregg said.
“We have to get that message through to parents, we have to educate them, and at the moment we are not doing enough.”
Dr Carr-Gregg’s said his heart goes out to the Everett family, who said goodbye to their “perfect little china doll” on Friday at a memorial service in the Northern Territory town of Katherine.
Dolly, the former face of Akubra hats, took her own life at a Northern Territory property on January 3, just weeks before she was due to return to the Scots College boarding school in Warwick in southern Queensland.
Persecuted in life, Dolly is now the face of an anti-bullying campaign in death.
Dr Carr-Gregg said being chronically victimised on or off-line was one of the risk factors for teenage suicide.
But a recent study by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has uncovered that one-in-three boys and one-in-four girls as young as eight and nine years old are experiencing weekly bullying in primary school.
Dr Carr-Gregg said it was wrong to label these child bullies as cruel or callous, as they did not have the emotional intelligence to understand how damaging their behaviour was.
“We know the human brain has 100 billion brain cells in it and 1,000 trillion connections and we know they are not all wired up until the mid-20s,” he said.
“We know that the peak of bullying in Australia occurs around transition — so moving from primary to secondary school and we know there are some children whose emotional empathy is not well developed.
“Their threshold for tolerance of difference is very, very low and a result if you are different in some way, you are going to get picked on.
“It is not that it gives them joy, it is just something they do because they do not know what else to do.”
Dr Carr-Gregg said the bullying crisis facing our children was a parent, school and community problem.