Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Teens need to be responsible with the new technology

All of us like new toys, especially the electronic ones. We like the new gadgets that make us seem cool and help us with this ever changing world we live in. But we also can become victims of our infatuation, especially teenagers.

Case in point, the new phenomenon of "sexting", the sending of sexually explicit messages and pictures through their cell phones or other handheld devices. Most commonly, this is an act of vengeance against an ex, designed to embarrass them. A young lady named Jessica Morgan killed herself because nude pictures of herself sent to her boyfriend in private became public after their breakup.

Teens are entering the second stage of human development, preparing mentally and physically for adulthood. They are constantly given mixed messages about sex. Now, with the help of technology, they have a new tool to "express themselves", for lack of a better phrase.

The problem is, as they are in this stage of development, ethical decisions and long-term consequences are not necessarily their primary concern. They react emotionally and do things that are devastating to them.

Many teens are now being arrested and convicted of sex crimes because of this sexting craze and they feel it is unfair for them to be labeled as sex offenders. It may be unfair, but right now it is the law. Therefore, teens need to show restraint and parents need to offer guidance around this issue.

They should talk to their children about relationships and sex so that they understand what they are getting into and can make rational decisions that will help them throughout their lives. Parents cannot trust their children to their own judgement, they must play an active role. If they don't, more than likely it will lead to dire consequences.

One final note: Sexting is not innocent fun. It is a crime in most states, being considered child pornography. Teens should not engage in this behavior, either as an instigator or a recipient. The new technology can be a powerful tool that even can save lives. But with great power comes great responsibility. I encourage teens to use it wisely.