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5 Ways Technology Impacts Teen Sexuality and Increases Bullying

June 25, 2019

Today’s teens are growing up in a digital age where they have easy access to all sorts of information including information about sex. Consequently, teens are a lot more informed and at a much earlier age than they were years ago. What’s more, these access to information along with the influx of technology and apps, they have a different mindset than their parents. In fact, technology has completely changed the ways teens view relationships, sex, and sexuality.

As a result, it is imperative that parents are aware of these changes so that they can parent their teens accordingly. Here are the top five ways technology has changed teen sexuality and increased sexual bullying.

Sexualized Content Is Rampant Online

Today’s teens have been exposed to more sexualized content than any other generation. In addition to the Internet, teens also are getting an early sex education through music videos, advertisements, and reality television. Even social media exposes them to more than previous generations. In fact, social media is comprised of so much more than cute puppies, make-up videos and uplifting quotes. Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat contain quite a bit of sexually-suggestive material.

And this frequent exposure doesn’t come without consequences. Viewing sexually suggestive material on a regular basis can lead to more sexualized behavior and talk. Consequently, more and more teens are engaging in sexual talk online. And sometimes these posts lead to sexual bullying, harassment and cyberbullying.

Apps and the Internet Makes It Easier for Teens to Hook Up

Years ago, teen dating involved meeting someone at school or an activity and asking that person on a date. Today, teens are using apps, social media and other Internet tools to meet new people. While there are some positives to expanding a teen’s ability to meet new people with like interests, there are some downfalls too.

For instance, not everyone is who they say they are online. As a result, teens can fall prey to catfishing and other techniques designed to lure them into fake relationships. Additionally, there are apps available that teens use to find others to hook up with. One example is the app Tinder, which shows the user people nearby that might be interested in meeting. Parents need to be aware that these types of apps exist and discuss the dangers of meeting people they do not know.

Apps and the Internet Makes It Easier for Predators Too

Social media, online games, and chat rooms have made it easy for sexual predators to find unsuspecting victims too. Keep in mind that predators often pretend to be someone your teen’s age and will spend months grooming a teen and gaining her trust. Additionally, they may lure teens into sending sexually explicit photos and materials.

This is exactly what happened in the high profile case involving Amanda Todd. After convincing her to share a nude photo, the man then cyberstalked her, bullied her and tormented her with the photos for years after. Eventually, Todd could not take the constant humiliation and bullying any longer and ended her life.

Approximately 13 percent of teens report receiving unwanted sexual solicitations like what Todd experienced. And about 1 in 25 teens have received sexual solicitations from an adult attempting to meet with them in-person. Be sure your teens know that this is not normal behavior and that it should be reported immediately to parents and the authorities.

Kids Engage in Sexting at Alarming Rates

Sexually suggestive, nude and provocative photos and videos are the norm in many teen social circles. In fact, approximately 54 percent of college students indicate that they engaged in sexting before the age of 18. Yet, this type of activity is considered child pornography and can lead to serious legal issues for teens.

Unfortunately, many teens do not realize the legal and emotional consequences of sexting. What’s more, they naively assume that their partner would never share or distribute their nude photos. Talk to your kids about the dangers of sexting and what could potentially happen. Likewise, be sure that your teen immediately deletes any images that are sent to her. Even if she did not request the photos, having them on her phone could open her up to being charged for possession of child pornography.

Kids Participate in Slut-Shaming and Other Types of Sexual Bullying

Because teens are repeatedly exposed to sexual messages, there has been an increase in bullying that is sexual in nature. Two examples include slut-shaming and sexual bullying, both of which can have significant and lasting consequences on victims.

Talk to your teens about these types of bullying. As uncomfortable as it might feel to have this conversation, it is important to talk to your teen about sexual bullying. Doing so can go a long way in helping her deal with the issue should it arise.

A Word from Curt Rees

Talking to your kids about sex is never a comfortable conversation for either party. But if you want your teen to have a healthy view of sex and understand what is normal and what isn’t, it is a conversation that cannot wait. As a result, be sure you are not only discussing the risks associated with technology but also talking about the things they are witnessing online. With open and honest communication, you can become a sounding board for your teen and help her make wise choices down the road.