Social media scare campaign launched ahead of schoolies

A campaign focused on the power of the selfie is being used to curb the excesses of thousands of school leavers converging on accommodation across the Gold Coast for schoolies week.

Teens rolling into town for a week of partying following end of school ceremonies across Australia will be warned that smartphones are always watching.

While the ‘be safe and watch your mates’ message is still the prevailing one from the Gold Coast Schoolies Advisory Group, electronic billboards sitting at the entrance of Surfers Paradise beach will flash with reminders about the enduring legacy of online photos.

“Don’t let a photo ruin a future,” one screen reads, as it displays a picture of a teenage girl staring at her phone.

Another shows images of teens in gutters, passed out on beaches and standing naked on balconies around the message, “Watch your selfie. Schoolies your futures could be over in a flash. You never know who’s watching.”

Some 20,000 school leavers are expected to party on the beach during the festivities.

Organisers are also encouraging revellers to be careful about what they post online themselves, with the display saying, “Public or private? Know your account settings”.

Schoolies Advisory Group chair Mark Raeburn said: “The kids are much more image conscious than they used to be.

“Gone are the days of ‘I’ve just skolled a bottle of scotch and look at me aren’t I tough’.”

Other authorities are also tackling predicted behaviours head-on.

NSW Health is encouraging teens to wear condoms when having sex during the festivities to prevent the spread of chlamydia.

And Queensland Police arrested 36 people on the eve of festivities from a Gold Coast drug ring that was allegedly looking to target school leavers.

Gold Coast Superintendent Mark White said police would be using a number of strategies to prevent drugs being sold to schoolies kids.

“If people think they come into this event and gain some advantage or push drugs onto young people they are going to be in for a rude shock,” he said.

When it comes to accommodation, police are also on the lookout for bad behaviour.

 “Queensland Police will today be monitoring the influx of teenagers as they arrive and book into their accommodation,” a statement read.

“Police are hopeful that revellers will continue to behave in a responsible manner as the week unfolds.”

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