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Jul 26

Thoughts on Teen “Sexting”

The Boston Globe had an article in their December 8th edition entitled “Teens’ Nude Photos Get Unexpected Results“. I actually received a couple of emails from parents and leaders who reacted to the article. It certainly is a daunting time to be a teenager. The culture has lowered the standards for sexuality to a level that pretty much anything is considered “OK” these days. Clearly our teenagers are in a battle each day trying to figure out how to maneuver through these kinds of issues.

I was trying to think through why teenagers would send naked pictures of themselves via their cell phone. While there is nothing scientific to these reasons, I do believe they are indicative of the realities that teenagers are dealing with:
Too Much Freedom: There are simply not enough boundaries for kids. I think as parents we need to be more thoughtful about allowing teenagers to have a phone that has camera features, and if nothing else, know what is being done with the phone on their camera. I think parents have every right to check in on their kids phone usage. It’s not about infringing on their privacy, it’s about protecting them and helping them make wise choices.
Desire For Love/Acceptance: Girls want to be loved and accepted. Some girls will do almost anything for approval and attention from boys, not because they really want to, but because they crave to be loved. Broken families, overworked parents and lack of nurturing relationships is the unfortunate reality for some. Without thinking of the long-term consequences, it’s not that far-fetched for a girl to rationalize sending a photo to a guy who will promise her the world.
Too Much Pressure: There are so many voices that teenagers hear about sexuality. Parents say “Don’t do it”, the church says “It’s a sin”, friends say “I do it all the time” and the culture says “This is how you do it”. Typically friends and culture are the voices that puts the most pressure on teenagers. Parents and the Church must provide safe, healthy and frequent dialogue about sex with teenagers to they can process the pressure they deal with from their friends and the culture.

I’m not done thinking this through, but these are some initial thoughts. Would love to hear what you think. Leave a comment and I will respond.
  • Alex

    This might apply to girls more often then boys, but it’s wrong to imply it’s exclusively girls “because they want to be loved” (boys don’t want to be loved?). Right in that article even, a boy is mentioned.

    Also, I’ve never heard of anything like this happening at my school, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened of course.

  • Gina

    Sexting is a real problem. I am aware of it happening even with churched youth. It is a way that teens flirt with each other. Also boyfriends request it and the girls think that it is normal. The boys also send pics in return. This is more commom than we think. A news article came out in our local paper just this past week. However I learned about it just listening to teens talk.

  • Todd

    Alex, I was trying here to illustrate the point that sexual actions are typically tied to a desire for love, not about the exclusivity of boys or girls. Good points though.

    Gina, it’s scary to know just how common this is. Glad you have an “in” to be able to hear teens talk. Praying for the opportunity for you to minister to them!