When does it begin for most young people? It can be a subject impossible to avoid in social settings. Age can vary from person to person but according to education.com, “As they reach the mid-teen years (age 14-15 years), they start having relationships with peers of the opposite sex”
So how does a fourteen year old “date” a peer? A relationship status change and chatting on Facebook? Texting? (I got notes. Do teens still do that?) Phone conversations? Possibly even hanging out? I remember one of my dates at 14 included meeting up at Subway in a group. As time went on, just like anything else, the stakes were raised. Homecoming, prom, spring break vacations – all things we did with a boyfriend or date. As a teen in the mid 90″s I was into cars and music. I wore a pager constantly in my front hip pocket and used a payphone to keep in touch. Many things were similar to what is still happening today, but two things that have changed dramatically are technology and social media. A simple Google search on sexting quickly reveals the high-profile court cases. Teens to adults are being prosecuted for capturing and sharing inappropriate images.
I honestly cannot imagine what it is like to be a young girl today facing peer pressure to sext. On one hand everyone knows it’s a risk, on the other hand pressure makes us all do stupid things. In my middle school and high school years, I was caught off guard too many times to count. Boys/male peers would seem to be nice, but then make audacious requests that were always followed with relentless pressure. In some situations I simply ran away or got out of there as fast as I could. Other times I felt trapped and unable to say no. Maybe I had no desire to give in, but a nagging sense to fit in pushed me to do things I knew were wrong. Peer pressure is real. Bullying is real. If you’re a young girl wanting to date, be ready to fight off unwanted requests. Sexting has many consequences I fear young people are unable to consider under heavy pressure. Predators, haters and scorned X’s have the ability to share and pass images around the world in minutes.
Young people, think before you share any image of yourself. Think about your dream job. Would you want this image on your resume? Parents, if you are going to pay for your teens phone or PC then consider viewing their images on a regular basis. No unknown passwords or locked accounts. Teens, be smart and accountable. An adult looking over your shoulder IS NOT the worst thing, even though it may make you cringe. Teen dating means something different in this culture. It means you must be prepared, you must be responsible with technology and you must be mature. Crush on, teens. Dream big dreams for yourselves young people. Just be careful who you let influence you. Make a rule to keep selfies, and all images of yourself, for profile use and applications only.