Monday, 8 April 2013


I keep seeing reports of teenagers indulging in sexting (here  and here for example), and the admonition of parents for failing to monitor their kids' electronic devices (as in the first article linked to).

Clearly this is a serious problem.

But the problem doesn't lie simply with the kids.  Consider this (from that same article): 
Jon Ebert, a psychologist who spoke to the Tennessean had wise words for kids today: “A lot of adolescents are still developing in their mind the ability to think ahead to the consequences. They’re in the moment, and they’re thinking of shock value or just being funny. What they’re not thinking about is the footprint they’re digitally leaving for themselves. They’re not thinking about what that footprint can do to them later on down the road or what effect that footprint can also have on others.”
Is it just me, or is that a profoundly troubling quotation (and editorial comment: 'wise words')? 

If the only advice we can offer to teenagers is to 'think about your digital footprint,' we are completely missing the point.

But I suppose it's the equivalent of 'make sure you use a condom.'

That is, we will not teach good behaviour (morality) for fear of seeming to preach - we will merely offer advice on how to avoid the consequences of immoral behaviour: advice which is doomed to failure, as immoral behaviour has profound and lasting consequences, even if the most obvious and immediate consequences are avoided, and also because all the protections (condoms, wiping computer memories...) are flawed and may fail too.

This seems to me to epitomise the moral bankruptcy that we are leaving as a legacy to the next generation, and it frightens me.

I would never give my kids such advice, any more than I check their mobile phones to make sure they are not taking pornographic pictures of themselves and others - but then I hope (and believe) that we have raised them in such a way as to make such advice, and such checks,  unnecessary.  I could, of course, be wrong, but even so, I think the noxious implications of such advice are such that I refuse to consider giving it anyway.

Sancta Maria purissima - ora pro nobis.

1 comment:

Mark Lambert said...

I think you identify the problem here very well...the adults just don't see anything wrong with it any more, it's all a bit of fun, and the only issue is how it could possibly affect you in the future. It shows a collapse in standards which truly frightens me.