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Andrew Dickens: What parents can learn from 'yuck' Penrith Panthers scandal

Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 6 March 2019, 12:58PM
The smartphone with its cameras and internet access is the conduit to social media which is being blamed for all sorts of social ills. Photo / Getty Images

You have to wonder at the moment whether all Australian league players do is play with balls and then go home and make sex tapes which they send to their mates.

This is after the Penrith Panthers five-eighth Tyrone May became the first player charged by police for his role in a sordid sex tape scandal. That said, he is just the latest in a line of leaguies whose sex tapes have been splashed all over the net.

May turned himself into Penrith police station on Tuesday morning after featuring in numerous lurid videos leaked on social media last Friday.

He was arrested and charged with two counts of allegedly filming and two counts of disseminating sexual acts with two women without their knowledge and consent.

Just yuck. I mean, the sex was consensual but the sharing of the videos with teammates is just strange. Who wants to see your workmates doing the wild thing? Can you imagine Larry getting up to that sort of thing?

But it was made even more yuck when his boss, the rugby league legend Phil Gould, then stated that the sort of behaviour that May has been caught at is, and I quote, “extremely widespread in League”.

Gould said, "Talking to people who deal with this every day, court judges and police, this is in all walks of life. The real worrying thing is this is conditioned into kids in the schools. This age of mobile phones and cameras, it is commonplace."

So it’s a bit of a relief to hear some sense coming out of another league legend Brad Fittler. The New South Wales Origin coach famously banned cellphones from the sheds at his camps in his first year.

It freaked out the players, particularly Matt Prior who found his two days without a phone “startling and stressful” but eventually liberating.

Now Fittler has gone further.

Based on his experiences with his players and his kids and some research he wants the government to help parents. He reckons if governments step in on other addictive practices because they’re injurious to mental health, then they should be stepping in on phones which he thinks is one of the big drivers of bad mental health.

He’s not wrong. The smartphone with its cameras and internet access is the conduit to social media which is being blamed for all sorts of social ills. And he wants us to learn to moderate our use at a younger age. He called on the government to "take the ball up" in censoring their use.

Let’s not go all nanny state and ban them from kids hands but parents need to be aware. After seeing a friends 13 year old child suspended for three days for downloading porn on his phone at school we decided that our boys could have dumbphones but not smartphones until they’re 16. And to make them loathe us more we refused to buy smartphones for them. They had to use their own money.

I’d be more than happy to see a campaign of social awareness around the use of smartphones by the under 16s. And hopefully, it might spark the league players to grow up as well.

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