PROTECTED: Teen surfer Ellia Smith posts to Instagram under her mother's supervision.
PROTECTED: Teen surfer Ellia Smith posts to Instagram under her mother's supervision. Contributed

Coast teens navigate murky waters on social media

ELLIA Smith, 14, has become an inspiration for other young surfers through her Instagram page, and it's something she has done with the help of her mum.

The Coolum surfer follows professionals like Steph Gilmore and loves sharing her own experiences and advice with others, and she doesn't mind running things past her mum Tanya before she presses 'post'.

"I find it helpful because I don't want to post something that isn't really important," she said.

"It's good having a second thought and making sure it's all okay and positive."

Tanya said working through social media together meant even though Ellia was still young she was making mature decisions about what to post, and what not to post.

"It's made her aware that, in a way, other girls might be approaching it the wrong way," she said.

"She'll often come to me and say 'oh gosh look at what these girls are posting'.

"Her maturity's really gone up and she does see that other girls are experiencing issues growing in social media."

Instagram @elliamiasurf

Tanya said for Ellia surfing, rather than the snapshots she posted of it on Instagram, where her main focus.

"I'm so glad she's got a focus," she said.

"I think that's where some kids get a bit lost and a bit bored, but she's always got something to do with her friends.

Ellia did not have a mobile device of her own, and used Tanya's phone to choose what she wanted to put up.

She was even thinking of starting her own Youtube channel with the videos she shoots on her Gopro while having fun with her friends in the surf.

While some of her Instagram videos have had 8-10,000 views, Ellia has been lucky to have avoided negative or nasty comments online.

For Caloundra mum Brookelea Sugars it was worrying that her 13- and 15-year-old daughters could not walk away from things that were going on at school or in social groups because of the way social media kept them constantly connected.

"There's no such thing as going home and forgetting about what has happened," she said.

"There is just no escaping social media.

"If they can't get you through your social media or any other form of technology they will get you through someone else's then the messages or posts are circulated."

Ms Sugars looked for ways to keep her girl's focussed on other things.

"We've tried listening to music, beach trips, lots to keep them occupied and get their minds off it all," she said.

"They will feel much better and positive, then school comes the next day and it starts again."

Ms Sugars, like Ms Smith, thought teaching teens about how to navigate social media was vitally important.

"I think if you can educate and make your children realise what harm it can cause them and others is a big point," she said.


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