Very few things in adolescence are certain but there is one thing upon which most teenage girls agree, and that is, they must be sexy. They must wear the short shorts with their rear's hanging out to fit in and get attention. Teenage girls show little loyalty to each other because, more often than not, they are more committed to competing to be sexier than their female peers then they are competing for a boy. So what is this doing to teenage girls? It is pushing narcissism, insecurity, premature sex, and self-obsession. Young women are rushing to get breast enhancements and other surgeries to look like the porn and reality stars they see on TV.
1. Pressures: Teenage girls are under sexual pressure more than ever before. As parents we need to judge them based upon their own generation, not on how we grew up. Girls are starting puberty much earlier due to shifts in diet and nutrition and due to the common break-down of the family unit.
When there is the loss of a mother or father, due to death or divorce, a girl's body may jump into survival overdrive provoking an early onset of the physiological process of her maturity. Because many teen girls are developing earlier there may be more pressure to be sexual earlier. Loss of attachments often cause teen girls to look for that missing attachment through love/sex.
2. Technology: The world of technology has completely changed the sexual landscape for teens. When we were young we would sit by the phone hoping our crush would call. These days there is an unceasing amount of constant contact via SMS, Facebook, Twittier, and texting. Parents are left with almost no ability to monitor the conversation.
Teenage girls feel safe to flirt online and can hide this within the safety of their phone. They become obsessed with following their crush on social media, constantly being in touch with where he is at, who he is with, and "liking" all of his photos or tweets.
Because they feel safe, online flirting becomes more risky. It is common for teenage boys to ask girls for sexy pictures. Many teenage girls become so engrossed with being the sexiest and with winning the boy over someone else, they forget about who they are internally and have no clue about intimacy, loyalty or respect. It becomes about competition. When this goes terribly wrong and a photo of her gets passed around and the teenage girl is fully naked or nearly naked, it humiliates and shames her.
3. Online Pornography: The online pornography industry is so flooded that to stay "cutting edge" it has to produce more extreme material. The trend in online porn is veering towards sex that is extremely rough, aggressive, objectifying of women and it idealizes sexual acts that women don't really enjoy.
For many young men this is their sexual education and they expect sex to be like what they see, so they copy what they see. This is shaping the young man's sexual imagination, expectations and practices, and yet, what these young men are seeing isn't reality.
Teens are emulating what they are learning/seeing. Because the girls onscreen seem to be enjoying it young men erroneously think this is the kind of sex women enjoy. Sadly teen girls also get the distorted idea this is the kind of sex they should enjoy, even when they don't.
4. Unwanted sex: There has been a dramatic increase in teenage girls having unwanted sex, which has potential long-term effects on how they feel about themselves and their sexuality. The main reason this unwanted sex is happening has to do with being drunk, high, wanting to fit in, not wanting to hurt a boys feelings and/or feeling pressured to do so from friends and/or boyfriends.
5. Consequences: Unwanted sex, which includes sex under pressure, sex while intoxicated, or simply performing sexual acts they regret can deeply fracture their self-esteem. Teenage girls who have had unwanted sex are more likely to consider suicide, to have poor relationships, and to have a higher number of sexual partners. Having unwanted sex causes teenage girls to never feel sexy or good enough, to feel high levels of anxiety and low self-esteem. These negative psychological impacts can increase risk taking behavior in an effort that maybe their next sexual experience will make them feel good. Sadly many teenage girls are left feeling used, abused, abandoned and empty.
6. Parenting/Educators: As parents and educators we can make sex education easier for them. A loving, nurturing family environment and parents who are open about sex help enormously. Sex should be discussed frequently and its intimate, emotional and physical pleasures should also be discussed. If all that is discussed around sex is negative and shaming our girls and boys will turn to other sources, such as the internet for information. Further, the less guidance our teens have, the more likely they are to have sex earlier and to have it unprotected.
It is important for parents to encourage both boys and girls to have respect for each other and to never choose a boy or a girl over a friend. If you find out your teenage girl is sexually active do not freak out or become punishing. To maintain a close relationship with her, be understanding of why it hard to say no. If you handle the situation by shaming her you make her self-esteem worse causing her to feel unlovable and forever tainted because of her choice.
Due to the internet and social media, sex education has totally changed its face. What teens see online is often a dangerous mix of misinformation and distorted images of sexuality which is influencing their behavior, leaving our young women confused and misguided on what sex is and isn't. Sex is both emotional and physical but what our teens are exposed to is only the physical aspect, leaving out the intense emotional and self-esteem ramifications which can come from having sex too soon or from having unwanted sex. Arguably, there has never been a more confusing, stressful time to be a teenage girl or be a parent of one. What most teens are seeking is the feeling of love and commitment. If we can educate them on the full spectrum of sex and intimacy and be very open with it, our teens will make better choices for themselves and others.
Sherapy Advice: Young women still want love, intimacy and strong relationships based on respect, and so do young men.
HuffPost Parents offers a daily dose of personal stories, helpful advice and comedic takes on what it’s like to raise kids today. Learn more