Dear Teenagers of Mine,
Today its been all over the news that New York Congressman Anthony Weiner admitted to sending inappropriate pictures of himself to women. (after lying about it for several days) So, I have to take this opportunity to talk to you again (you know how I am) about cell phones.
I love that we have cell phones. It is a wonderful and even effective way for us to communicate. We’ve talked and will continue to talk about being responsible with your phones. We’ve talked about not texting anyone you don’t know, about not texting what you would not say to someones face. We’ve talked about not texting excessively. We’ve talked about texting and driving. I’ve read your messages and I will continue to “spot check” your messages.If you want complete privacy, then become an adult and pay for your own phone.
Since I believe knowledge is power, let’s talk again about the camera on your phone, and let’s talk again about sexting, (I’m sorry that in 2011, this is the conversation I must have with you but unfortunately it is.) In 2009 the Pew Research Center found that:
- 4% of cell-owning teens ages 12-17 say they have sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images of themselves to someone else via text messaging.
- 15% of cell-owning teens ages 12-17 say they have received sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images of someone they know via text messaging on their cell phone.
- Older teens are much more likely to send and receive these images; 8% of 17-year-olds with cell phones have sent a sexually provocative image by text and 30% have received a nude or nearly nude image on their phone.
- The teens who pay their own phone bills are more likely to send “sexts”: 17% of teens who pay for all of the costs associated with their cell phones send sexually suggestive images via text; just 3% of teens who do not pay for, or only pay for a portion of the cost of the cell phone send these images.
This data reminds me that there are many peers around you not thinking. It reminds me that you are at risk for sending, but even more at risk of receiving an inappropriate text message. It reminds me there are many around you not being inappropriate but also, that many around you are being appropriate.
Sometimes I forget what you are up against as you navigate through this life. But today I was reminded (via all network and cable stations) that sometimes even grown-ups who we trust to be wise and appropriate, are not. Sometimes even those we deem intelligent and living above reproach, are not.
My every expectation is that you will display wisdom, boundaries, maturity and purity with that phone in your pocket. That you will be more responsible and mature than even some adults. I believe in each of you.