This is an older blog that I wrote years ago. With the recent attention brought to celebrities’ private photos being hacked, and Snapchat pics being found and posted, it is still relevant today, maybe even more so.
Kids have it hard these days.
I’m the first to get on their case about their lack of responsibility and self-centered mentality. I do because I remember being like that. When asked to do anything that disrupted my oh-so important little world was criminal, or at least garnered a snarky, snotty remark, followed by my lack of enthusiasm in doing whatever was asked of me, or just forgetting to do it at all.
But there’s one thing today that I’m glad I never had to deal with back then. The media.
Sure there was media back then, but it didn’t invade my life like it does today’s kids. They get it from their favorite celebrities, directly into their phones, and through the internet, which they can access through their phones.
And what is the number one method of selling things? Sex.
Kids are being exposed to more sexual imagery than at any time before. What’s worse, it’s being aimed at younger kids. Seeing belly shirts and the like being sold to little girls who should be dressing like kids and not little hookers is frightening. Female pop stars become the idols of these kids, and they see them dressing in very little or nothing, and want to do the same. They don’t realize they shouldn’t. They don’t understand that these pop stars are making a statement about themselves, or just trying to look tarty. But they are adults! If an adult wants to look like a slut, then so be it. But should little girls?
Boys aren’t much better off. But for them, it’s the part of society that objectifies women, particularly, porn. It is frighteningly easy to see graphic, hardcore pornographic images online. You don’t even need to get onto a website. Some have images on their main page where you have to prove you’re legal to get in. Once they’re hooked, they’ll look for more.
I was in my twenties when I saw my first, serious porno movie. I couldn’t imagine what that would have done to me when I was 10. There are kids that young, maybe younger, who are seeing these images. Seeing things like that, out of context, not understanding the meaning or purpose of the images, and probably too embarrassed to talk to anyone about what they’ve seen, will affect them. They’ll see women as objects, whose only purpose is to please men. Their view of relationships could potentially be warped.
A few years back, I heard of girls giving their boyfriends head at school so they’d stay together. This wasn’t college or high school. This was secondary school! That example just shows that there’s trouble on both sides. The girls not understanding the meaning and purpose of sexuality and relationships, and the boys unknowingly (or, even scarier, knowingly), using the girl’s insecurity and inexperience, as well as re-enforcing the images they may have seen on the internet, to show how they keep their “girl” via objectification.
Then comes the cell/ smartphones with cameras and video recorders, as well as apps like Snapchat that supposedly delete, but actually don’t and can be hacked and re-distributed. Now, girls and boys can send nude or sexually suggestive images of themselves to their boy/girlfriend, because that’s what celebrities do, whether its voluntary or not. Plus, they want to keep their relationship. What they don’t realize is that once a picture is sent, it’s out there, for potentially everyone to see. If the relationship breaks up, those pictures can find their way to anyone, anywhere. And it doesn’t have to be pictures. With the newer ways to chat via an avatar, you can perform virtual sexual acts. Some may see it as goofy and silly, but what if the other person doesn’t? What if they are getting off on it? What if that 22-year-old guy your teenaged daughters are talking to is a 42-years-old pedophile? Even if they are who they say they are, your teenaged kids performing virtual sexual acts hints at potentially a lot more going on, or at least, a need to discuss such things.
That’s where another problem lies, the parents. Good parents want to protect their kids form the world, teach them all they can to prepare them for the future. But when it’s subjects like sexuality and they are still kids or teens is a lot harder. So, some just don’t, which is the worst thing a parent can do. It is difficult to talk about those subjects for a reason. Because, it’s important. If it’s important, then hesitating or ignoring the subject doesn’t help. Then your kids are unprepared for what may come at them at school, at their friend’s house, or at a party.
One solution could be being over-bearing and a control freak with your kids. Taking their cell phones if you think they are taling about something they shouldn’t. If you have a valid reason, I can understand that. But if you do it just to be in control, that only creates resentment and anger, and may lead to them actually doing things you were trying to prevent them from doing! It also can’t be based on gender. I know many will treat a boy and a girl differently when it comes to social media, but you can’t.
If you are honest and straight-forward with kids and teens, if you show them that you’re not talking down to them, but to them, on an equal level, then what you have to say has a better chance to sink in. As awkward and uncomfortable as the conversation might be, it has to be said. The more times you talk about the subject in a honest and clear manner, the less of a taboo it becomes. Then, hopefully, if something comes up in their lives, they’ll be more likely to come to you and talk about it, instead of keeping it inside and getting answers from those who might have the wrong answers.
I have three teenaged nieces and a nephew, and another niece and nephew who haven’t hit the double-digit age yet. I often worry of what they’re dealing with out there, because all of what I’ve talked about might be happening around him. I also have an older nephew, but fortunately, he’s pretty-much an adult with a decent head on his shoulders, so he has adult things to deal with. The saving grace is that they all have a network of loved ones around them.
I’m sure people will blame the media for the over-sexualization of everything. That’s like blaming them for violence and the decline of civilization. Media has a role to play, no doubt. But it’s the parents that raise the kids. It’s the society that continues to embrace material wealth over moral integrity (that does not include religion, considering how many people have been killed and discriminated in the name of various religions).
The day we all put others’ well-being before our own comfort and wealth, will be the day when humanity evolves.
Until then, society will continue to falter and the ones most at risk are the only hope for our future.
The vicious circle just keeps on spinning.