Sexuality and Social Media

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Is it a bit toooo short?

Today, as I my 16 year old  daughter headed out to a party last night and  I heard myself say,” Is it a bit tooooo short?” I am delighted to welcome the wonderful @TalkingTeenage from Twitter, otherwise known as Barbara  R. Greenberg and Jennifer A. Powell-Lunder from

They have a written an excellent book called “Teenage as a Second Language”  which is available from their great website and they really are a wonderful resource for all things teenage – with wonderful articles, and thought provoking questions to help you raise a happy, confident, well balanced teenager.

Barbara and Jennifer are clinical psychologists who specialise in the treatment of teens and their families. They are respected writers, speakers, and consultants on teen issues.

Here is the article that resonated with me last night ! 🙂

“YOU ARE NOT LEAVING THE HOUSE WEARING THAT! If you are the mother of a teenage daughter then you most likely have heard yourself saying these words. Your teens are trying to fit in and look trendy. They may be imitating celebrities who dress in skimpy styles.

Think back to your own teen years. I remember when my older brother’s “cute” friends were coming over. I would race to the closet in search of flattering and enticing clothing. Looking back – I don’t know if I was successful with what I thought was my lovely appearance. The boys certainly didn’t give me feedback but I was nonetheless pleased with myself. Go figure!

What mothers need to know is that teens are testing the impact of their sexuality during these years. It is very possible that they are unaware of how powerful it is. It is probably not until a woman is older that she realizes the power of her sexuality. So what we have these days is the coupling of teenage girls testing their sexuality and the pervasive use of social media . This combination can be a recipe for trouble. What we have seen is teens sending provocative photos of themselves via social networking and new media. Just one click can send a single photo to hundreds if not thousands of unintended viewers. We know that we all feel more anonymous when sending messages that are not delivered in person. When teens feel anonymous they take greater risks. Hence, provocative messages and photos of teens are swarming around all forms of social media.

With these factors in mind, we have several suggestions for moms of teenage girls. 

1. We suggest that before you criticize their attire  you talk to them about the message that their appearance may be sending. Saying “that is probably a little too sexy” will likely go over better than “you’ll leave the house wearing that over my dead body.”

2. Explain to the girls that their male peers are more easily aroused than they are. This will be invaluable information for them to have throughout the course of their lives. 

3. Make sure that that they are aware of the speed and far reach of messages sent electonically. They may not be aware that a single posting of a photo can end up on the facebook pages of everyone in their high school in a matter of moments.

4. Learn about technology and social media yourself so that you can be in the know. Set parameters around the use of technology. 

5. Finally, ask your daughter how she would feel if her photo or message appeared on the cover of the local newspaper. YIKES!

Good luck. We have nothing but the greatest admiration for mothers of teens. It is probably the most tricky role there is. On the other hand, you have a wonderful opportunity to teach and be positive role models. Although it may not seem like it, these girls are both listening to you and watching you.”

What are you experiences of this with your kids?

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