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Explaining to middle school kids why sexting is not really connecting

“One of the reasons why kids are so into texting is that they are seeking to connect. Children are starving for connection.” - Courtney Jeary, Founder of Taking Back Eden
Joanna Jullien

Pediatrics just published a study about middle school kids who become sexually active. The study concludes that 20% of middle school kids have received or sent one sext, (sexually explicit photos of themselves via text message), and that kids who receive and send sexts are also more likely to engage in sexual activity. One of the recommendations is to talk to kids about the social, legal, behavioral and emotional consequences of sexting as soon as they are issued a mobile phone.

Courtney Jeary is the founder of Taking Back Eden, a Sacramento non-profit devoted to stem the tide of sex trafficking through building awareness and educating communities and churches to take local action. She witnesses how children are conditioned for sex as a transactional experience that dehumanizes, rather than as a gift of grace reserved for intimacy in coupling as a foundation for nurturing a family. “One of the reasons why kids are so into texting is that they are seeking to connect,” Jeary said. “Children are starving for connection.”

According to Jeary, texting initially imitates the type of connection that happens in a genuine relationship, and then when the act of texting does not satisfy, they move on to other things to try and fill that void, including drugs and other risky behaviors.

Tips for communicating genuine connections

  1. Faith as an app for the heart and mind. What you believe about personal power to love and be loved matters more than ever in the social network. Help your child to imagine the first app to execute is that mustard seed of faith that makes a free society possible: God is sovereign and he grants us intelligence and free will. Think with your greater self. It is your personal power which cannot be taken, but you can easily surrender it. Use it wisely.
  2. Texting apps are tools. Do not be fooled by the stimulation you feel when someone sends you a text message. That is your brain reacting, not your own heart and mind. The connection from texting is superficial; genuine connections are the fruit of trustworthy relationships that do not require tools like texting apps to work.
  3. Speak to your children about their identity as magnificent sons, daughters and as future spouses. Are you modeling how to treat the opposite sex to your son or daughter? What kind of spouse do you envision for your son or daughter? How are you modeling the type of spouse you hope your child will choose to love?

For more about dealing with internet porn and sexting, go to: Preparing children for sex in the network

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