Cybersex – who’s watching the children?
Leroy Ndlovu addresses the elephant in every living room inhabited by the modern teenager – unmonitored phone use and… cybersex.
When I was sixteen years old I had a girlfriend, and I loved her beyond words. She was two years my junior, and although her parents kept her closely guarded (quite literally) under lock and key, we managed to stay in touch constantly by way of phone calls or text messages. For the sake of protecting her privacy, we’ll call her ‘T’.
Love in the time of Nokia 5110
We used to text all day and all night. Once she even called me while I was riding my bike home from school and said two words only, “Please reply.” Then she was gone. Looking back now I can’t help but chuckle at how ridiculous I must have looked stopping every few seconds to respond to the brief beep I had set as the message alert tone on my Nokia 5110. It was old, but even with an elastic band around its middle, it got the job done. In those days it was hard to get me away from the phone because i knew that T would be calling or texting any minute and I didn’t want to miss it.
I remember at one point we started to get adventurous in our texts. She would tell me how she longed for my touch, how she wanted me to kiss her until she could not breathe. I, of course, would reciprocate with my own feelings and we would both be giddy with excitement by the time we said goodnight. As all things do, this little practice escalated to the point where our texts became more graphic. Long gone were the days of longing to kiss each other. One Saturday evening she asked what I was thinking about. I responded with a very graphic text that I am almost embarrassed to rehash when I think about the fact that T was only fourteen years old then. It read something like:
‘You, me, a room; our clothes all over the floor. You sitting on the bed with your legs spread…. Guess where my tongue is…’
Her response was what I could only interpret as a shocked ‘LEROY!’
I found out later that she had been with her friends when she read the text, and they had been reading together; showing off her boyfriend as she was. I never heard the end of it from her friend’s cousin, who happened to be a classmate of mine.
“Dude, she’s only fourteen! what’s wrong with you??”
Now I find myself wondering how I would have reacted to those texts if I had been that little girl’s father, or older sibling. At the time it seemed like harmless fun. But now I wonder what would have happened if her parents had not been as strict with her. Would harmless fun have turned into a baby? Would T have finished school to become the woman that Facebook and LinkedIn tell me she is now?
A new world, of cybersex
Nowadays, of course, with Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and all the constantly online applications, kids have access to everything. I was shocked a few years ago when this late teen girl I was chatting with on MXit asked me to send her pictures of my man parts. We had never met, and probably never will, but here she was asking me to send pictures of my nakedness. It made me wonder what had made her brazen enough to ask a boy for D-pics. Her response was that it was just a picture and there was no reason to be so edgy about it.
It was just harmless fun.
Life before cybersex
It was nothing short of a rude awakening for me. When I first got a girl’s number it was a landline; and I had to be careful about when I called and what I said to her. Even if I was alone, there was always that treacherous second handset in the other room where a parent could listen in on the whole conversation. There was control so we kept it clean. The introduction of smart phones and sms technology ushered in a new era of freedom for us. The phone belonged to us, and we could say anything and talk anytime. It was limited though until instant messaging came along. Now we can talk to anyone anytime, and send them pictures of literally anything.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Anyone can send anything, to anyone.
Who’s watching the kids?
Most parents think kids are harmlessly chatting with friends. No one bothers to check what content is on the phone, and we let them run free of any guidance whatsoever. Unsupervised teens always spell trouble. Just think about how you could be sitting in the living room with your fourteen-year-old daughter as she sends a stranger the picture of her private areas she took moments ago when she stood up, ostensibly to go to the bathroom.
Not concerned yet?