Sexting and the Teenage Brain

I think sexting is probably one of the biggest youth culture issues addressed by the news-media in the last year. Our ministry has written articles on the subject, (including this article about how to wade through “media hype”) and I’ve blogged about it numerous times, even this week when we saw another suicide that began from a sexting incident.

Now MTV/Associated Press has taken a poll and shared their findings. I always find it ironic that MTV is doing these studies. I understand why they want to know this information– so they can better understand the generation that they are pimping their smut too— but I just wonder how MTV execs sleep at night when they discover the truth from all these polls.

Even Conan O Brian joked about this in his monologue last night, commenting that MTV was recommending that kids don’t participate in sexting. He jested, “MTV says there’s a time and a place to share these intimate moments… and that’s on one of our 17 reality shows!”    🙂

Anyway… the AP article reporting on this study shares that more than a quarter of young people have been involved in sexting in some form. I also found it interesting that only about half of the kids surveyed saw the issue as a big problem.

The article goes on to talk about the teen brain, arguing that teenage brains are not quite mature enough to make good decisions:

Research shows teenage brains are not quite mature enough to make good decisions consistently. By the mid-teens, the brain’s reward centers, the parts involved in emotional arousal, are well-developed, making teens more vulnerable to peer pressure.

But it is not until the early 20s that the brain’s frontal cortex, where reasoning connects with emotion, enabling people to weigh consequences, has finished forming.

Beyond feeling invincible, young people also have a much different view of sexual photos that might be posted online, Bogle said. They don’t think about the idea that those photos might wind up in the hands of potential employers or college admissions officers, she said.

“Sometimes they think of it as a joke; they have a laugh about it,” Bogle said. “In some cases, it’s seen as flirtation. They’re thinking of it as something far less serious and aren’t thinking of it as consequences down the road or who can get hold of this information. They’re also not thinking about worst-case scenarios that parents might worry about.”

You can read the whole AP article here.

This seems to coincide with earlier research about the brain- I talked about the teenage brain a few years back, with my two cents and a biblical response.

Bottom line: continue to talk with our kids about these issues.

(ht to KJ for the AP article)

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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One Response to Sexting and the Teenage Brain

  1. diana hampo says:

    I worry about the sexting all the time, especially for the kids in high school because they have to live with those words or pictures for years and years.