SYLVIA McCRORY MAY 2020
When I was a teenager, there was no internet. The teen magazines were focused on articles about clothing, makeup, nutrition with some advice sprinkled in about relationships with boys. There were pictures of models, celebrities, advertisements for makeup, shampoo, and clothes.
Today the teen magazines want to be sure to include everyone in their readership. In general, the teen magazines are targeted for girls 12-17 years. The topics have changed over the years. Some of the magazines are only offered as online subscriptions, eliminating parents from taking a gander at the content, without logging into the subscription. I think of the grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other friends and family who are searching for a gift for the hard-to-buy-for teen. Thinking this would be a harmless, great gift, without much worry or effort, many may purchase these without consulting the parents. However, the reality is many of these magazines pose potential threats to the mental and physical well-being of young people today.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
I Corinthians 6:18-20 (NIV)
Many of the articles in teen magazines include topics such as: sexting, abortion, anal sex, how to reach an orgasm and more. Keep in mind these magazines are intended for girls ages 12-17 years. Not only do they promote sexual activity, with “How to” guides, they ignore the psychological effects, and physical effects of being sexually active at such young ages. Morality is not an issue in many of these magazines. To be fair, there are warnings about using precautions, and some advice, and some articles are recommended for older teens.
In an article titled Teen Magazines Are a Dangerous – and Influential – Sex Ed Teacher dated August 20, 2018, “From Teen Vogue’s Sexual Health and Gender Identity section girls can discover that abortion is funny and answer 20 questions about their first time having sex, which includes how to reach an orgasm.” It continues, “In May 2018, parents were outraged over a graphic tutorial of anal sex. Instead of apologizing for the graphic nature of the piece, digital editorial director Phillip Picardi called the parents who complained homophobic.” Here are additional quotes from the same article:
“On July 19, Teen Vogue taught young girls “Period Sex 101: Everything You Need to Know.” The story defined period sex as “any sexual activity – heavy petting, oral sex, penetration, etc. – while one or more of the participants are menstruating.”
“In addition to teaching young readers how to be sexually active, Teen Vogue tells impressionable youth that abstinence-only sexual education does not work.”
“Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Robert Rector looked at the correlation between “Teenage Sexual Abstinence and Academic Achievement” to find that “teens who abstain from sex are less likely to be depressed and to attempt suicide; to experience STDs; to have children out-of-wedlock; and to live in poverty and welfare dependence as adults” and are “more likely to have stable and enduring marriages as adults.”
These magazines minimize the effects of teens being thrown into the adult world, into adult situations, without the maturity, or resources to handle these situations.
The teen years are hard enough for young people. Teens want to be grown-up, but they are not. Most teens go through a rebellious period, which is normal. Teen magazines are encouraging promiscuous activity and promoting teens to do what feels right to them. Unfortunately, these magazines are in the business to make money, and they know sex sells, even if it comes at the cost of the mental and physical health of our young people.
In an article from Your Teen Magazine titled, Sexting: Should You Be Worried? Or Is Sexting Normal in The Digital Age? by Mary Helen Berg, she recommends the advice of Dr. Jeff R. Temple, a psychologist and professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch from his paper in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health Journal, “According to Temple, for teens in the digital age, sexting – that is, sending or receiving sexually explicit material by cell phone or computer – can be considered a normal step in sexual exploration and development if it occurs under the right conditions. In the same article, “I’m not looking at it as a horrible, bad, risky behavior when two 17-year-olds willingly sext each other,” says Temple. “We should see it as a kind of modern day version of flirting.” Temple goes on to say there are areas of concern if sexting is not done appropriately. Temple addresses the area of sexual activity stating, “It’s still unclear whether sexting leads to sex or the other way around, Temple says, but his research shows that teens who sext are:
- Five times more likely to have multiple sexual partners
- Using contraception half as often as their non-sexting peers
The article considers the laws have not kept up with technology today. “Sexting is classified as distribution of child pornography and laws don’t always make a distinction between amorous teens and predators. Teens who send, share, or receive pictures that contain images of nude minors can be charged with a felony. A Colorado court recently upheld a ruling that required a teen boy to register as a sex offender for the next 20 years after police seized his phone and discovered he had been sexting with two teen girls. Temple believes parents and schools should teach safe sexting along with safe sex and good digital citizenship.”
As parents, we need to be informed about the information our teens are reading and following. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Teens who do not have access to these magazines at home, will be able to find them at a friend’s house. We no longer live in a world of innocence. Parents should be discussing these issues with their teens and develop a relationship that encourages their teen to come to them with questions. Please be open and calm when these conversations occur, parents are the most important people in the lives of their teens. They need to feel comfortable talking to you about ANYTHING.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: That you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.
I Thessalonians 4:3-5
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