REVIEW: Selfies, Sexts and Smartphones: A Teenager's Online Survival Guide


When you think back to your teen years, how many SMHs can you count at the regrettable things you said and did?

Thank God none of it was ever captured digitally, right? 

But that's the world our preteens and teens live in. 

My mind instantly goes back to that incident last year when one teen sent another teen that video threat – and it ended up going viral. Pretty sure being a national topic of discussion was not her original intention. 

Our lives online are not separate from the lives we live in in the real world – but that's kind of how it's taken, no? 

We know that social media gives us the kind of voice once only accessible via traditional forms of media, but do we actually know the power and influence it carries?  

Emma Sadleir and Dr Lizzie Harrison have brilliantly put this reality into perspective with their book, Selfies, Sexts and Smartphones: A Teenager's Online Survival Guide. 

One part social media legal expert, one part psychologist – the dynamic duo have pooled their real life encounters with teens and social media (gone wrong) into one hilarious and incredibly informative guide. 

The book covers everything from cyber bullying and online predators to dating and reputation. 

In fact, reading this well into your adult years would be just as useful. 

Filled with golden rules, here are a few key factors highlighted in Selfies, Sexts And Smartphones: 

1. The billboard rule

Before you make anything digital - i.e take a picture of, send to a friend via Whatsapp, or post onto any social media platform - consider this, would you be comfortable if what you're about to digitise were to somehow end up on a billboard with a picture of your face and name next to it? 

2. A lesson in online anonymity

The idea of being anonymous online is as fictional as the Loch Ness monster, according to ladies, "there are always ways to find out who you are, and if the circumstances call for it, you will be traced." 

3. "The. Screenshot. Is. The. Devil." 

Almost every legal case the authors have dealt with has been the result of a screenshot. Taking a screenshot could not be easier and literally takes seconds.

They're dangerous because, whether you've shared content or not, anything that exists in digital form can be duplicated and then shared across platforms, with or without your knowledge. 

4. Consider the 6Ps that make up your invisible audience 

Do not be fooled by the facade of privacy settings, as mentioned above, screenshots are dangerous and can be shared with the following groups: 

  • Police 
  • Parents
  • Peadophiles
  • Prospective university admissions officer/employers/scholarship provider 
  • Principals 
  • Phishers 

5. "The Internet never forgets"

No matter how tech savvy you are, you have no way of knowing where your digital content will end up.

"If you make a stupid comment online and people write about it, you can delete the comment, but you cannot delete all the posts where people are trashing you for what you said." 

Read more: 

Has your teen ever gotten into trouble for something they did online? Email your story to and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.  

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