Psycho-babble goes psycho–Your slutting-out daughter doesn’t need a dad, she needs a webcam

Jan. 17, 2007 — – Your 14-year-old daughter shows
up on MySpace in a bikini. Her 13-year-old friend is wearing a
miniskirt that might make Britney Spears blush. Time to panic? Not
necessarily.

. . .

But some psychologists and child-development specialists believe
nothing about the teenage drama has really changed. While young women
may express their sexuality more overtly than they have in the past,
for the most part, their behavior isn’t cause for alarm. It’s a
necessary step in growing up.

Looking Sexy Doesn’t Equate With Sexual Activity

According to LynNell Hancock, a Columbia University journalism
professor who covers the youth beat, bumping and grinding to today’s
sultry songs no more reflects what teens do off the dance floor than
grooving to Jimi Hendrix or Elvis Presley did in the past
. [We’re they all taking drugs off the “dance floor?”]


“Moving your hips in the suggestive way that Elvis was doing made
adults think that we were hopping into bed with everything that moved,”
she said, reflecting on her teenage years. “And of course that wasn’t
the case — it was just another case of expressing sexuality.”[Yeah that really worked out for us . . . and your kids . . . *cough*singleparenthood*cough*]

Not Much More Than Meets the Eye

For teens, sometimes the meaning behind a scanty outfit is no more
substantial than the clothing itself. Hancock believes that striking a
sexy pose may be an extension of childhood — just like playing
princess or astronaut.
It allows teens to escape their everyday lives
and play in a realm removed from reality.

“What adults don’t get is that MySpace and YouTube are very complex and
really quite innovative media that have a whole set of conventions of
their own, which are not really meant very seriously and not taken very
seriously,” Broughton explained. “It’s not really as personal as it
seems.”

According to Hancock, by dressing provocatively, dancing seductively
and posting salacious photos on social networking sites, young women
are trying to accomplish a time-honored goal of adolescence:
establishing their independence.

“They’re breaking away from their parents and authority figures in
order to become independent people. These are all just expressions of
that,” she said. “We like to think of children as completely innocent.
So when they do things that are not age appropriate, it freaks people
out.”

Let’s Talk About Sex (to a Point)

Rather than dismiss teenagers’ expression of sexuality as a
breakdown of values and decency
, child development specialist Juvonen
suggests parents and school administrators should talk with teens about
what it means to display sexuality.

For parents still uneasy about MySpace, Friendster and Facebook,
Broughton said consider social networking sites from a new angle. In an
age where the pressure to weigh less and look hot can overwhelm young
women, a teen girl posting her picture on the Internet can be seen as
having a healthy self-image.

. . .

Broughton believes that if parents can stop treating social networking
sites as the scourge of the century, they may be able to see how
Internet forums can be valuable, even educational, for teenagers.

“If they were not attacked and misunderstood and panicked about, they
could be respected as young people in a domain in which they’re
behaving supportively and democratically
,” he said.


If nothing else, step back and let kids be kids.
Because no amount of
interference can stop the adolescent drama from playing out, Hancock’s
advice is to keep the lines of communication open and stop fretting.
Remember — a Britney Spears-inspired outfit does not a hussy make.


“Don’t worry about how they’re dressed. You don’t have to walk down the
hallway of high school with your child,”
she said. “Relax. This too
shall pass.”

ABC News: Some Say It’s OK for Girls to Go Wild

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