As time passes, each generation gets more and more sexually aware, and this one is no exception. Social media, easier access to the internet, and sexual promiscuity add fuel to an already burning fire. A big problem now with the pre-teen and teen age group is sexting. Sexting is defined as sending sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone. Sexting at any age can have repercussions, but at an age where brains are still developing, bullying is on the rise, and the consequences can be far reaching, the trend is even more disturbing.

The writers and directors of “Screenagers, Growing up in the Digital Age” focus not only on the issues around technology use and kids, but they also send weekly emails about current trends and what to watch for. The following information was recently sent out, titled “Beggin’ for Sexts.”

Beggin’ for Sexts

I hear from many pre-teen and teen girls that they or their friends have been asked by boys via social media to send nude pics. In one discussion I had with a 10th-grade girl this week, she told me it “happens all the time” to her. This is so very disturbing.

Now here is the real killer. The guys have been known to make threats if the girls don’t comply. Girls are threatened with social embarrassment on many fronts.

Sexual exploration is a natural part of growing up—and growing up is so much about being seen as cool and desirable by peers. Girls get a lot of attention for their sexy looks, and guys get kudos for interacting with girls – and sometimes that means getting “pics.”

According to a 2016 survey from Statistics Brain, 71% of teen girls and 67% of teen guys say they have sent or posted sexually suggestive content to a boy or girlfriend.  Here is what I find very interesting—”48% of young adult women and 46% of young adult men say it is common for nude or semi-nude photos to get shared with people other than the intended recipient.”

It is imperative that we try to have conversations with our sons and daughters about the pressures, internal and external, of looking “hot” and sending “hot” photos. We need to arm girls with ways to respond to pressures. Talking to our boys about what are the messages of guys on how to be cool, why is there so much asking girls for pics, and what as a culture can we do to decrease this?

Start a conversation with your children about pictures and social media. The key is CURIOSITY. Teens will likely be very defensive with this conversation unless we approach it with kid gloves. Teens are at a time when the worst thing we can do is judge them. Being curious about the pictures culture can make for much better conversations.

  • Which celebrities show the most revealing photos these days?
  • Have you heard of girls being pressured into sending sexy photos?
  • What are some reasons guys may be pressuring girls to send them photos?
  • Should health classes discuss these issues or should they just be for home discussion?

Parenting teens, especially around topics involving sexuality, is never easy. But having open conversations early can help facilitate healthy boundaries. If you have a teen or young adult struggling with appropriate sexual behaviors, call Tamara Ancona, MA, LPC, at (678) 297-0708 for an evaluation, and to discuss potential solutions.