Remember chat rooms? Apparently they still exist, though we haven’t seen any lately. But if the cover of the latest issue of Toronto Life is to be believed, every parent of every 13-year-old girl should probably panic about their daughter’s secret online sex life.
Cover lines aside, the story itself isn’t quite so alarmist, and is an interesting read. It highlights writer Alexandra Molotkow‘s personal experience as a teenager who visited chat rooms and regularly engaged in the ever-nebulous activity of “cyber sex,” which usually involves explicit chat while one or both parties masturbate.
The piece also touches on how Molotkow’s experiences online compare to those of teens today. As the story points out:
“When I was 13, the Internet was still terra incognita and technology still relatively no-frills: there were no cellphone cameras, no webcams, no YouTube. I’m disturbed by the antics of kids today: take Jessica Leonhardt, an 11-year-old Floridian known as “Jessi Slaughter.” … Leonhardt’s story became a cautionary tale. The family appeared on Good Morning America; newspapers and blogs pontificated about the importance of monitoring children’s Internet use. It’s a classic worst-case scenario, and a reminder of how kids have ruined their own lives for millennia, through any medium they can master.” (Emphasis is ours.)
While it’s certainly true that kids need to be educated about both the Internet and about sex (and how those two intermix), we’re not pushing the panic button just yet. The world has always been filled with salacious (and unfounded) stories of teens and preteens and their dangerous sexual endeavours (remember Rainbow Parties?) But what do you think? Does the story simply contributes to moral panic, or is it an important part of the discussion around an important issue?