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Talking with youth about adult issues in the social network

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner (2013) at a press conference confronts his issues involving sex and sexting which ultimtately led to his resignation.
Photo by John Moore

Last Tues. three teens from Jacksonville, AR were arrested for distributing lewd photos of other minors via mobile phone; a practice better known as “sexting”. According to the KTVA report, the teens, who are only 13 and 14 years old, are being charged with felony child pornography. They could face being registered as a sex offender for the rest of their lives.

Mobile connectivity has ushered in adult issues for youth at earlier ages, and it begs the question about how to explain adulthood to children – especially tweens and teens who are empowered to engage in risky activities and ideas.

Marie Hall is the Executive Director of BeMoneySmartUSA, a Carmichael non-profit dedicated to teaching teens financial literacy and life skills. She describes adulthood as a shift in perspective. “To me the biggest difference between an adult and child's perspective is that as an adult, you realize that you are not in charge of what you feel, but you are in charge of how you act,” she said. “All feelings are legit. Not all acts are. At the point where reason wins more often than emotion, you are on the threshold of adulthood.”

True adulthood might be summed up as this maturity that emerges from practicing self-control. And human sexuality presents a power crisis for adults - as evidenced by former Congressman Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal.

While children are capable of self-governance at very early ages, they can easily be convinced that knowledge and wisdom are the same thing. Knowing how to post a photo, respond to a text, search for a topic, and access people and ideas from around the world can create adult issues for young hearts and minds, especially regarding ideas about sex and sexuality. Wisdom is the introduction of worldly knowledge in ways that edify the personal resiliency of the person. Wisdom cares for the individual; knowledge does not. So it is possible to know too much for your own good in a cyber-powered world which can inspire risky conduct, shame and guilt which can lead to bondage.

Tomorrow from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Life Community Church in Roseville is hosting an event to educate and inform parents about social media trends which involve the sexual exploitation of children: sexting and internet porn.

This will no doubt be a conversation about the power and control issues of the human experience amplified in the network culture for youth at early ages. Responding to these trends requires a resiliency about personal truth that cannot be faked.

As one of the panelists, this examiner will discuss the inherent authority of parents and children to overcome sexual manipulation and exploitation experiences in the social network. It involves the mustard seed of faith that makes a free society possible: that God is sovereign and grants individuals free will and intelligent life. Therefore power is something that cannot be taken from you in this world, but it can easily be surrendered with thinking governed by insecurity and fear. So the challenge of the modern parent is to become the trusted resource; provide a safe place to unpack what is happening in the physical and cyber realms in order to learn how to respond in ways that defend and reclaim your personal liberty.

Most importantly, this mustard seed of faith makes it possible to get a “fresh start” no matter what is happening or has transpired in the physical and cyber realms.

To register for the overcoming sexting and internet porn event: Life Community Church.


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