Keeping Teens Safe: The Internet Threat

“Mrs. Peck, I am afraid I can’t believe in God.”

“What do you mean? How do you know?”

“I just don’t do things I should do and I do some things girls my age shouldn’t do…”

“What are you doing that you shouldn’t do?” I asked

“I just…spend my free time with two guys I don’t know…we just use facebook. That’s the place where we met…with one it’s just about conversation, but with the other…he just wanted me to show him my body and so on…you know…things that are done by a different type of people…Sometimes I just think it could be nice for both me and that guy.”

“It sounds like you are having some natural feelings under the circumstances. So, you have not gotten physical with the guy yet? Does it make you confused?”

“Of course it makes me confused…I told about it to one of my facebook friends, who is like my father, and he told me that it’s not something bad. He thinks it’s okay.”

“Are your conversations sexual?”

“…little bit..but with one guy, it’s just normal conversations.”

“Let me tell you a rule I have always followed to keep out of trouble or regretting decisions I make in my life…This will help with the confusion.”

“okay”

“I know my inside is much more intelligent than my outside. My physical desires can’t always be trusted. They can cause confusion and regret. So, I listen more to my inside than my outside and try to look at the decision I am about to make as if I am looking back on my life from 10 years later.”

“…Also, I have noticed that every time I feel confused before I make a choice the decision is wrong and causes me pain or feelings of worthlessness. By contrast, every time I make a decision when I feel my inside knows it’s right then things always turn out happy, and successful. This goes for everything I do and everything I say. This is my rule. If I ever feel confused, that is my inside, my spirit, telling me it knows better than my brain or my body and that I need to say no.”

“This is a hard rule to consistently follow. It can sometimes make you not fit in, or even make you feel bad about disappointing someone. But, we can’t worry about that because our purpose in life is to find our purpose in life and then fit ourselves to it. If we just follow the cravings of our bodies we will not find purpose. We will only be animals and destroy our progress toward happiness…An emotionally driven person can’t be happy. Only a person who takes complete control over their lives is happy. To find happiness you have to align yourself with goodness too.” I added.

She replied, “Yes, but complete control of ourselves is hard. You know sometimes it’s also about fun.”

“Yes, fun is important, but you can have both…The problem is, people have convinced themselves that the only really fun things are rebellious. This is a social lie. In fact, most people don’t know how to have honest fun anymore.”

“Hey, that’s true…In my class everyone thinks that they have to do some anarchists things or drink alcohol or something to have fun.” She said.

The conversation went on, but this is a good place to stop

I want to thank my friend for allowing me to share this conversation. I think it is helpful for all of us to hear from the mouth of a young person what is really happening on the internet and how they feel about it all.”

What Do We Learn From This?

I don’t know about you, but I go to the internet for answers to almost every question I have. As my conversation proves, I am not alone in this.

My friend finds her friends and even her moral and relationship advice online. She is not alone in this. The web is literally loaded with advice. Some of it good. Lot’s of it destructive.

Trying to sort through all advice requires a guide. A spiritual guide.

I can’t help but wonder why my young friend didn’t go to her parents. What is her relationship like with her parents like? Do they talk much? I really don’t know.

Parents need to be involved with what happens on the internet. Parents should be their child’s facebook friends if they are allowing the child to join facebook.

What Can We Do About It?

From a very young age, I’m talking age 6, parents should talk about appropriate sexual boundaries with their children and about natural sexual desires people experience. You don’t have to get too descriptive at age six, but don’t be too vague either.

Use the Spirit as a guide with this kind of conversation. If I go into how I discuss sex with my children, it would turn into another post. But, the worst part of me telling you exactly is that your child isn’t mine and I can’t be inspired to know the ‘perfect’ way to present sex in your home. Use inspiration. Seek for the companionship of the Spirit, and the appropriate vocabulary to use.

Keep entertainment wholesome, and discuss the love relationships you do see. The more you talk about love relationships with your children the better. If you don’t inform them someone else at school will.

I have known multiple young children who were approached at age six for sex. Most of them didn’t know what was being asked. A few of them were flattered to be asked to do such a grown up thing. A number of these young ones were fooled into something they didn’t understand and something which would change their lives forever in a negative way.

My experience with difficult foster children has also shown me what can happen to a child’s life if the family doesn’t handle a sexual situation correctly the first time.

We live in hard times. We need to tell our children what the dangers are to keep them thinking ahead of the game.

We also need to talk to our children about their sexual feelings as puberty arrives. They need to know that we understand how they are feeling. We need to help them develop appropriate boundaries again to stay safe from computer temptations or even just images they encounter at school or the store.

One day my twelve year old daughter said to me, “Mom, I have to confess something. I saw some really bad pictures in a book at the haircut place. The people hardly had any clothes on. I felt like the pictures were dirty, but ended up seeing them. Now I feel real bad. What should I do?”

A hair cut place, in a hairstyle idea book? Yup. It’s everywhere. We need to watch all the tine and discuss weekly with our youth.

Next, we can limit the time on the computer, have the computer in a public location, and ask questions about computer friends.

If we don’t watch them close, they won’t get in the habit of watching themselves closely either.

Last, parents and good adults need to have a presence on the internet too. We need to offer places and friendships for youth to find good advice.

I don’t know if anything I said to my internet friend made any difference that day in the choices she actually made, but I do know that she had a lot to think about; a whole new perspective.

We have great wisdom to share with today’s youth. We have made many mistakes in our past, and know the pain that comes from making blind choices. Let us help our youth win this moral battle that the powers of evil have waged against us.

If we choose to do nothing, then we are choosing to be prisoners of war.

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3 thoughts on “Keeping Teens Safe: The Internet Threat

  1. Good advice Nicholeen. I think it’s really important to talk to your kids about these issues. We have a ward YM/YW event coming up this Sunday to discuss this very issue.

  2. Great post. It was great to hear a teen open up and talk about her interactions on the internet, so glad she allowed you to share it with us. It can be hard to get teenagers to open up, thanks for the advice.

  3. I thought her thoughts were very insightful too. These issues and temptations do need to be the part of parent/child conversation. Open relationships and good communication are key to keeping children and teens safe.

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