In an excerpt from Catherine Steiner-Adair's book, while sitting in her English class, a 15-year-old girl received a text message from a boy a few desks away who she didn't really know. The message said, "So, are you good at hooking up?"
"Um... idk. I don't think about that," she texted back.
The boy then sent another message detailing a sexual act he wanted to perform on her. The girl was embarrassed, confused and didn't respond. Later, he sent another text message saying that he liked her.
While being interviewed for a study about sexting, the girl began to cry as she described the story, wondering if it was even proper to tell the boy that she didn't appreciated his texts at all.
It's a New World
Teenage boys are growing up in a different world, and because of technology, traditional forms of communication between the opposite sex are changing dramatically. The majority of teenage boys now accept sexting as a normal form of communication between girls because how they communicate through smartphones has stunted their ability to develop authentic loving relationships.
Clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair interviewed 1,000 students nationwide for her book, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age. From these interviews, she found new forms of communication boys use through their smartphones, such as texting, Facebook, and Twitter; teenage boys engage with the opposite sex in completely untraditional manners. And boys are using these new forms of communication to fulfill their base sexual desires rather than creating a stable and healthy relationship.
Sext First, Talk Later
Social media expert, Lola Ogunnaike explains why boys even consider sexting in the first place. "Kids can't escape from the cues of our current hyper-sexualized culture. Pornography is readily available, as are images on TV, film and even in the real-life political scandals of Anthony Weiner. This has gotten boys confused on how to interact with girls their own age, simply mimicking what they see happening in popular culture."
Dr. Steiner-Adair adds, "These teenagers are yearning for intimacy that goes beyond biology but just don't know how to make it happen."
Many parents have no idea what their boys are even sending in text messages, and many choose to ignore it due to the classic "boys will be boys" mentality. But experts agree that without proper parenting, this sort of behavior will have terrifying affects on the well being of our rising generation.
"What it inevitably teaches young kids is that people in general are cheap, disposable, and easily accessible," states Ogunnaike, "That's a problem because people aren't fostering real relationships anymore."
Dr. Steiner-Adair and Ogunnaike both agree that the best solution, if not the only one, is for parents to monitor their child's phone activity and to talk with them about the difference between biological desires and genuine relationships.
What can a parent do?
There are apps such as SMS Tracker or Super SMS Monitor to monitor a child's texting activity on a smartphone. These apps display a log for every message sent and received by the child's phone, and it is a great tool in monitoring a child's interactions with others.
However, there are still ways to circumvent sending messages through SMS texts, and kids know them. Whatsapp is a very popular messaging app that allows iPhone, iPod, and Android users to text via Wi-Fi. To disable these apps, use the privacy settings on your iPhone or iPod Touch. If your child uses an Android device, there are parental control software apps you can use to disable apps. That list includes App Lock, App Protector, or NetNanny for Android.