WHITNEY: Nude selfies: What your kids have in common with celebrities
Jennifer Lawrence – what an idiot, amirite?
First she has the audacity to excel in her field and ascend the ladder of movie stardom, winning a couple Academy Awards along the way that legitimize her talent. Then she expects to have her nude selfies, which were taken in the privacy of her own home and shared solely with her at-the-time significant other, stay out of the public eye. Totally stupid.
But as the gossip rag tagline says … Celebs. They’re just like us!
In a 2013 study, Pew Research Center found about half of American adults have taken nude selfies and at least one in five have received them from someone else.
Well, that’s an uncomfortable fact. Next time you go out to dinner with your pals, you can guess about four in your party of eight have bared it all for the camera before.
And these adults aren’t half as tech-obsessed as the generation nipping at their heels.
In fact, the same study found 44 percent of teens reported sending or receiving a sexually explicit text message, or sext, a jump of nearly double the 26 percent who reported doing so in 2012.
To add further context, Snapchat – the app that allows users to send picture messages that disappear after a few seconds, making it the go-to messaging client for sexting – didn’t see its advent until the end of 2012, just a few months before this survey was done. Its impact probably wasn’t fully measured in this study.
Ask a teen you know if they’ve used Snapchat. I’m guessing a wry smile will creep across their face and, before answering, they’ll say something like, “Um, why are you asking?”
Last year, here in Big Rapids, I attended a school assembly discussing laws regarding sexual contact between teens. When the floor was opened for anonymously written questions, one of the first asked was, “We all have Snapchat. Are we gonna get in trouble?” Sadly, the kids didn’t get a good answer because the adults in the room didn’t know what Snapchat was. But why would they ask the question if they weren’t using the app for, well, what it seems to be intended for?
Even more unfortunate is the fact that Snapchat is one of the most recent apps to have its databases hacked, meaning a bunch of teens could soon find themselves in a position no dissimilar to Lawrence’s.
Parenting would be much easier if our children grew up in the same worlds as we did. By the time we’re ready to dole out our advice and expertise informed by our own youthful folly, it’s about as useful as a vintage set of encyclopedias.
Parents of tweens and teens will forever be challenged with navigating a world and youth culture that isn’t their own, slowly figuring out what the hell is going on together. You won’t always have the answers you need at the moment you need them, which is usually two minutes before your kid comes in the door to announce their nudes are making their way around the high school.
Think twice about the language you use to discuss these photo thefts. They’re not scandals, they’re sex crimes. There’s no other word for a situation in which sexual conduct is forced upon an individual, and that’s exactly what’s going on with these photos when they show up on forums like “The Fappening.” (I’ll leave that definition for you to Google.)
When you read Lawrence’s comments about having her nude photos stolen, have a little heart. Not only could this happen to you if you’re among the 50 percent of adults taking nudes, it could happen to your kid, who might also be expressing their budding sexuality in the same way.
It’s never the fault of the person in the photos that their photos were stolen. The blame lies with the person who stole them. That’s why we don’t prosecute store owners when their stores get robbed.
Change your perspective on the matter now, or risk inadvertently shaming your kid into silence about something they may need to talk about with you.
At some point, the generation in charge is going to pass the torch to the generation sexting each other on Snapchat now. And to reference the words of sex advice columnist Dan Savage, if having nude photos or embarrassing information online continues to be a mark of idiocy and irresponsibility, there won’t be anyone qualified for the presidency in 10 years time.