Having “the talk” is always an interesting experience, for both parents and teens. Trying to be specific enough to get the point across, but without being too specific to scare your kid is not easy. Some parents shy away from the talk altogether (like mine, they just gave me a book). But now with social media ever present in our lives, the “talk” has changed.
When I was home for Thanksgiving this year, one of my family friends (who is only a few years younger than me and currently in college) was on Tinder almost all night. What she was doing wasn’t much different than going to a bar specifically to get picked up – just the method was different. I mean, you never know who you’re going to meet at a bar, and if they are even mentally stable. The fact that now this all takes place over social media changes how we think about the hookup.
If you really think about it, not much has changed when it comes to sex. Before social media and apps like Tinder, we would go to a bar to meet a guy. Now, most of these interactions take place over social. But because these take place over social, we have to be more aware of what is seen, and not seen, by the general public. There is less anonymity in the world when social media is involved. If not careful about protecting your identity online, something that you do (or post) can ruin getting into college, or even landing a job.
So, as I’ve established, apps like Tinder and Snapchat don’t encourage sexting, they just facilitate already established behaviors. We all heard about what happened at the Olympics in Sochi.
Teaching young children and teens about the good and bad sides of social media should be a top priority for educators and parents – especially that whatever is posted online never really goes away. The best piece of advice my father ever gave me before I left for college was “don’t put anything on Facebook that you may be embarrassed by one day” (remember – this was in the early days of Facebook, and before Twitter became popular). Simple and straight to the point.