It would be very surprising to find an adolescent that has not got access to any social media. For a lot of people not just adolescents that is the way they communicate, as it is quick, instantaneous and you can use it to share text and pictures.
It would be false to say that there has been not been some sort of impact on adolescent sexuality in the wake of current technology, but the question is how able are then to deal with the issues that social media generates? The worry not just about adolescents but also about the younger child.
We are told that there are filters that can be put into place to prevent young children accessing inappropriate material. General this works well, but when a child becomes an adolescent they need to be able to make some choices for themselves. Generally this can work well as when they are in school or college there will be similar filters in place on the technology that they use. However there may be some sites that they access that may not be subject to the filters.
The focus is usually on what can be accessed through the computer. Laptop and tablet, but what about the access that is available through phone use. Phones usually always have cameras and photos can be distributed to many others at a touch of a button. The point here is that adolescents should be encouraged to demonstrate restraint. They may feel it’s OK to share a personal picture of themselves with their new boyfriend but when some relationships go sour the offended party may not show restraint and send a very personal picture of their ex viral! The same goes for sexting. Really speaking the restraint that we expect of adolescents needs to be shown by some adults as well.
The restraint we expect of adolescents also is born out of expectations that they are not naive to what can happen to any email, picture to text that they send. Without sounding paranoid, they need to realise that whatever they release into cyber space then becomes fair game for the less scrupulous in our society. As a society we need to know and understand how quickly images and text can be distributed. It is bad enough if we know the people what on the distribution list but even worse anyone can get hold of what is sent. Perhaps as a society we need to focus more on what could be the repercussions of when things go wrong as that may be a bigger issue.
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