Teens, Cell Phones, and Overexposure

As if today’s parents didn’t have enough to worry about, the latest tactic teens have to drive them up a wall and send them to counselling or to Tough Love sessions is sending nude pictures of themselves to girlfriends, boyfriends, classmates, in fact, to the internet universe.

They may be unaware of that last exposure as well as oblivious to the fact it qualifies as child pornography.

Using cell phones while driving and texting while driving are madnesses associated with somewhat older teens who, on the basis of having passed useless driver ed courses, are granted license to drive on America’s roads and highways.

The younger set, a year or three away from that opportunity to cause vehicular mayhem and, too often, death or maiming to themselves and innocent victims, have discovered their own vehicle of rebellion via cell phones.

Kids between one and eighteen have never been known for their discretion. Some would say that outside age limit extends to thirty, in some cases.

Way back when, those indiscretions meant wearing forbidden lipstick and makeup and “making out” under the grandstand at high school football games. Closer “back when’s” involved more intimate behavior but still was conduct confined to one, or two, or a few significant others.

For the past year or so, based on news reports, young teens have been letting their raging hormones soar to new, and perilous, heights, letting it all hang out, figuratively and literally.

Kids (and adults) by their nature have always made mistakes; errors and corrections of all sorts are features of the maturation process. However, when those errors have far reaching consequences that could have major effects on their lives and enter the realm of illegality, they become much more problematic than merely staying out beyond curfew.

As teens mature, slowly, thoughts of romance enter the picture which, combined with that lack of mature discretion, breeds major the trouble. Facilitated by the universal availability of camera cell phones, that trouble has been compounded. Learning too late that first love is rarely permanent after transmitting compromising pictures of yourself to someone who then posts them on the internet can be far more traumatic than the breakup itself.

The practice seems endemic in young teen circles and more widespread than the adult world would tend to believe.

Reports from Cincinnati indicate that anywhere from 20% to two-thirds of high school kids have sexually explicit photos of themselves or buddies secreted on their cell phones. In Greensburg, PA, 14 and 15 year old girls were accused of child pornography for sending cell phone pictures of themselves in their birthday suits, 14 or 15 years after their births, to 16 and 17 year old boys.

CBSNews.com recently reported on how prevalent the new fad is. In an article titled, “Teens’ Nude Pics ‘Spread Like Wildfire,'” CBS cited documented cases in Westport, CT, Santa Fe, TX, La Crosse, WI, and Daphne, AL. Those incidents included teen boys who joined in the fun of self-exposure, unaware that their visual hijinks were illegal: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/06/04/national/main4153765.shtml?source=RSSattr=SciTech_4153765

Now, we elders are often accused of being out of touch, of being out of sync with the youngers and, in many ways, we may well be, just as our elders were out of touch and not synchronized with us.

However, here’s a clue for America’s younguns from an elder: We did not advertise our stupidity and immaturity. We did not reveal more than had to be revealed and we did not post pictures of our naked bodies on an internet, and not just because cell phones and the internet did not exist in our time.

If young teens don’t believe that those pictures they send to their one true love may very well become available to a few billion people then maybe they should return to the fantasy world of their Barbies and allow their parents to return to the world of sanity.

A final admonition for more astute teens: Ancient Rome collapsed and disintegrated for a variety of reasons, one of which was moral corruption. And the Romans didn’t even have cell phones or the internet, either.

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