Downside of being connected

Leave town for a while and grow up. It's good advice given to a lot of young people. Some go to university and get it out of the way. Some go on an OE. Some go to the city or another town to work.

A few years back it was the best way to test the boundaries of acceptable behaviour without that behaviour being talked about all over town. Everyone at uni was doing it. No-one in London or Sydney or Auckland knew you so it didn't matter.

Not that we really did much wrong, back in the day. It was just part of growing up.

It's not quite so easy for kids these days.

They are the most connected generation yet - switched on and hooked in. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogspot, the internet, texting. Anything they do is up there in an instant for all their mates to admire and share and comment on.

This all means that getting out of town to test the boundaries doesn't create any sort of buffer zone for them. It's all there in its digital glory for the world to see. Beamed in live from London or Sydney or Auckland.

That doesn't seem to stop them, though.

Usually it isn't a problem, but there are times when it can all go pear-shaped and will embarrass them for a long time to come.

We didn't always stop and think about "consequences", and we usually got away with it. We were with close friends, who would cover for us; or with strangers who wouldn't take much notice of our pranks or moments of stupidity.

But digital cameras and smartphones have changed all that. Their momentary lack of thinking is caught and posted.

The case this month of three young Blenheim women making a live sex show on the internet is an example. Someone they knew picked up the link and started sharing it with other friends and very quickly a large web of people in Marlborough were watching.

A letter to the Blenheim Sun this week from one of the girls' father gives some insight into the outcome of the situation.

"Her mistake was not a crime by our laws, it was a moral breach," the letter says.

"It was a momentary lapse of her moral compass which has deeply wounded family and friends."

The man thanked the "brave real friends" who had supported her, and said only someone who had never made a dumb decision should be able to criticise.

"The emotional damage and scarring is lifelong," he says.

He ends the letter with a warning for all parents to watch what their children are doing.

He is right.

While the example is at the extreme end of digital content being shared, it shows that nothing is truly safe these days.

The Marlborough Express