Terrible teen tales

Having just surfaced from a 48-hour bout of writing a paper that should have been finished days ago, lack of sleep is probably making me unduly flippant about the panics-du-jour over young people. But honestly… ‘Teenagers lured into meeting virtual strangers’:

One in five teenagers has met someone face-to-face whom they first encountered on the internet, according to research into the risks taken by young people online.

Well, OK, some of them may well need a bit of health-and-safety advice – but ‘lured’? Presumably not everyone turned out to be a hairy 40-year-old man with a penchant for pretending to like My Chemical Romance, or I’m sure we would have heard about it. Maybe some of them met heterosexual people of the same sex as themselves – and even the same age. Now there’s a thought.

The study found that teenagers also freely hand out personal information to strangers. Details divulged include full name (30 per cent), address (12 per cent), mobile number (20 per cent) and where they go to school (46 per cent), while 9 per cent had posted family photos.

It doesn’t really sound as if ‘teenagers’ are handing out information particularly freely if 70% didn’t disclose their full name and 88% didn’t disclose their address.

The mother of a 16yo boy laments: “Up until a few years ago I felt I had good parental control. Now I don’t.” I know the feeling – sometimes the reality that one’s children are growing up takes one by surprise. I remember a friend having real trouble persuading her father that she was in fact an adult, and making fellow tube passengers laugh out loud when she hissed in exasperation: “Look, Dad, I’m a grown woman. I’m a wife and a mother. Actually, I’m a grandmother!

Meanwhile, over at the Guardian:

Watching pop videos featuring thin, scantily clad women for just 10 minutes was enough to drive down girls’ satisfaction with their body shape, according to a study which appears in the journal Body Image.

Researchers fear the damage inflicted on the self-image of girls as they prepare to leave schools and sixth form colleges is widespread, given the near ubiquity of music videos on television and on big screens in clothes shops, cafes and bars.

Ah, once upon a time Twiggy and Barbie Dolls took the rap. If creating scapegoats for the last few decades hasn’t worked, maybe we should make some effort to improve girls’ self-esteem instead of publishing stories about how damage-prone they are.


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