Experts in the Media

Nicole Jameson – WAToday

Digital Strategist | Director of Dark Horse Agency | CEO of The Social Kit

Op.Ed by Nicole Jameson


Meangirling, catfishing: Perth parents speak out after witnessing devastating social media ‘trends’.

Perth mother Nicole Jameson was in shock when she found out her teenage son was being impersonated online – not by a stranger, but by people he knew.

Boys at his school had created fake accounts under her son’s name and were posting inappropriate and degrading content and comments online, usually aimed at girls from other schools, in a form of catfishing.

Jameson, who is a digital strategist and social media expert, has a profound understanding of how it all works and said it didn’t take her long to work out who the fake accounts belonged to.

By issuing a strict warning, she was able to get the behaviour to stop, but said it was not an isolated case and that other parents with less knowledge may not even know where to start to help their child.

The catfishing social media trend was just one of many emerging across WA schools, Jameson said, and they were becoming more of a problem due to the reliance on technology in class.

“Although you’re not allowed to have your phone in school now, for certain classes like engineering and art it’s expected you have either the phone or an iPad,” she said.

“That movement in technology and the reliance on it is making these trends more prolific.”

A second Perth mother, whose identity has been withheld to protect the privacy of her daughter, said she had witnessed another growing social media issue.

Her daughter was “meangirled” by her group of friends – a trend which involves publicly ostracising someone from the ‘popular’ group and then advertising the open spot through social media, encouraging applications usually through Snapchat.

She said a boy had circulated doctored images of her daughter in a form of child exploitation – a criminal offence for anyone over 10 to be in possession of or to circulate.

He had been telling several girls from the group for years before releasing the images that her daughter had been sending him photos because she was in love with him and wanted the attention.

What does cyberbullying look like?

  • Hurtful messages, comments or images.
  • Messages, posts or comments that say someone will do something mean.
  • Leaving you out or ignoring you online.
  • Spreading lies about you online.
  • Creating fake online profiles in someone’s name to trick you.
  • Sharing something online that can hurt you or make you feel bad, like a picture you don’t want anyone to see.
  • Threatening to share something online that will hurt you or make you feel bad.
  • Making you feel very sad, very scared or very upset.

“It was totally premeditated,” the mother said. “She just wanted to shut the whole thing down without getting slut-shamed, but he made that difficult.”

She said it was challenging to navigate the situation given her daughter would need to get through the rest of her schooling, and dragging a case through the legal system would be taxing.

Ultimately, they are dealing with the problem through the school and not pressing charges.

Jameson said while this case was one of the worst she had heard of it was not uncommon for students to use social media to make degrading remarks, especially if the internet was their only form of reference when learning about sex and relationships.

She recommended parents regularly talk to their children about what was and was not appropriate and remind them that anything put on the internet was permanent.

Jameson said children were usually on at least four different social platforms and recommended parents join the apps, learn the basics and find out how information was being shared.

“Have some strategies in place at home where you talk about it regularly, about the content they are viewing, and limit their use to certain times,” Jameson said.

“Just knowing basic terms like ‘Snap Map’ or ‘stitch’ will also help with these conversations – even if you use them wrong you are opening up the discussion.

“They will be more likely to tell you if something is happening online.”