How to stop teenagers sexting | Dean Burnett

By: Dean Burnett | How to stop teenagers sexting | Dean Burnett | Neuroscience | The Guardian

Jeremy Hunt has proposed a ban on sexting for under-18s. But there’s only one realistic option when it comes to curbing teen sex drives: don’t even try.

Jeremy Hunt has proposed a ban on sexting for under 18s. As any reasonable person might have predicted, this has been met with a great deal of criticism. Most of the arguments appear to be based on the technical practicalities, given how Hunt never truly explained how tech companies are supposed to filter specific types of messages on countless platforms and devices based on date of birth. However, an even bigger hurdle would be the sex drive of teenagers themselves.

One time when I was in school, we’d heard that someone had abandoned a pornographic magazine in a nearby field (for any teenagers reading this, this was a common phenomenon in the era when porn had to be printed). So, obviously, we set off to find it. Took a few hours but it was eventually spotted in a ditch. It ended with us just staring at it for a while, focussed on cheaply-printed images of naked breasts, spattered with mud, rainwater and animal effluent (I hope nobody developed any weird fetishes as a result of this, but you never know).

Short of locking them in boxes with no wifi connection, there is no technical “solution” that will prevent kids from sexting any more than you could have prevented a younger version of me from getting touched up behind the bike sheds at school. What’s more I’d argue that “stopping kids from sexting” is a misguided goal in the first place. We shouldn’t be treating sex like it’s a monster that’s trying to eat our young people: it’s a very common part of life, and blanket bans are a poor alternative to proper sex education and guidance.

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