Do you have advice on helping teenage boys with their impulse control when it comes to social media and discussions about girls?
The problem isn’t about impulse control. Nor is it concern only with boys. The inappropriate use of social media is happening with girls too. The problem is the technology and 24/7 access to social media that’s driving inappropriate discussion and behavior around sex. Interest in sex is completely healthy and normal, but technology speeds everything up – it drives the discussions too fast via texting, overstimulates the brain with sexually explicit ideas or graphic images, and provides lots of misinformation. This problem is growing as the must-have new technologies get released. We’re in uncharted territory. I’ve spoken to grade school and high school teachers at conferences about social media concerns (sexting), and we can’t come up with a single, simple solution or approach. As long as parents purchase and provide their kids with these technologies, the problems of inappropriate use will continue.
There is one thing a parent can do: monitor and get tough. Especially for younger teens (15 and younger) you’ll need to be on whatever social media they use – Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook – and be watching their activity. Be clear about which ones they can and can’t use. These are powerful technologies that are easily abused in the hands of minors and teenagers. Frankly, many adults have problems staying appropriate online and many get addicted to social media. Make a simple rule: If your teen is inappropriate, their phones/computer access must be immediately removed for at least one week to make a clear statement that technology isn’t a toy and has dire consequences when used inappropriately – especially around anything sexual.