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A couple of well-meaning parents ‘went viral’ in the last couple weeks with their cries for modesty as they navigate the waters of parenting teens – especially in today’s age of ‘social voyeurism’ . The first was a dad from Utah who donned a homemade pair of jean short-shorts in an effort to embarrass his daughter into not wearing her “similar” styles. Next up was a mom from Texas who had an “FYI” for all the teenage girls posting “scanitly clad bedroom ‘selfies’” in her sons’ social media feeds.
As these stories were shared by my social media friends, they elicited much debate from people and parents on the legitimacy of the concerns expressed. And with both stories targeting young women, a common refrain was, “here we go again, the boys get a pass as always.”
The Utah dad story has been picked up by various news outlets, so I wont bother to reiterate all the details here. But chances are you’ve seen this picture floating around recently:
The premise of the Texas mom’s blog is what I want to address further as it speaks to the so-called social voyeurism — whether it’s intended, or not — oozing from the smart-phones of today’s tech-enabled teens.
Here is an excerpt from “FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)” –
We have teenage sons, and so naturally there are quite a few pictures of you lovely ladies to wade through. Wow – you sure took a bunch of selfies in your skimpy pj’s this summer!
I think the boys notice other things. For one, it appears that you are not wearing a bra.
I get it – you’re in your room, so you’re heading to bed, right? But then I can’t help but notice the red carpet pose, the extra-arched back, and the sultry pout. What’s up? None of these positions is one I naturally assume before sleep, this I know.
So, here’s the bit that I think is important for you to realize. If you are friends with a Hall boy on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, then you are friends with the whole Hall family.
I find it hard to argue with the point this mom is making. In today’s age of plastering our lives all over social media — an act not confined to any particular age group, by the way — the failure to be modest in our pictures and posts can open us up to all kinds of dangers. And as my wife said, “there’s absolutely no good intentions that can come from posting a seductive bedroom or bikini pic online.” So why do it?
I am not a parent of teens, and I dread when that day comes, but some pretty wise moms have weighed in on this issue in my sphere of influence. Once such response I read in a comment thread of someone who posted the article is as follows:
As a mother of teenage boys, and a woman who was boy crazy as a teenage girl, I embraced the article. Young ladies do not always understand the effect their actions are having on our men. Those that do, and really care about the heart of a man, avoid doing what the article talks about. I am eternally grateful, as I suspect my guys’ future wives might be someday, for the mothers, aunts, grandmothers, etc. that have made an effort to recognize the damage that can be done and to monitor what young ladies are sharing as visuals. I appreciate the fathers, uncles, brothers, etc. that recognize it as well and take purposeful action about it.
Amen to that.
So what about the whole “giving guys a pass” attitude? Well I certainly believe the same sentiment goes for guys taking muscle-bound ‘selfies’ with their underwear hanging low. If I have a daughter someday, I certainly don’t want her drooling over some punk up the street. And when a concerned blogger calls out those guys and their article goes viral, I will champion it as well.
My bottom line is this — everyone needs to take responsibility and consider the consequences of their actions (groundbreaking thought, I know).
Texas mom Kim Hall and her boys took the initiative to filter out their feeds — so they are taking responsibility. It’s also up to the grown man to not accept friend requests of teen girls who don’t know any better when posting to Facebook. And all teens need to take responsibility for their safety and understand that while their pics and posts may seem innocent to them, there’s a lot of “creepers” out their who will look at supposedly “innocent” photos lustily and without good intentions — not something I would want for my daughter (or son).
In a perfect world, everyone would exercise modesty — especially publicly and online. The problem is when you combine human beings and our “self-worship” natures with the ease by which smart-phones and social media sites provide an immediate audience, then you end up with, well, what we have in our world today. However, as more acts of social voyeurism come under fire, hopefully things will get better.