My friend Don Pearson has written a frightening and exceedingly helpful book on parenting. Don has witnessed some disturbing trends in his decades of youth ministry, and he writes about them in iParent: Gender Trends, Online Friends, and the Soul of Your Child.
Don’s main argument—and he has numerous first-hand stories and research to back this up—is that new technology (e.g., Facebook, texting) is a leading cause of sexual sin and gender confusion among our young people.
He suggests that girls long to know, “Am I desirable?” while boys need to discover, “Do I have what it takes?” Traditionally young men and women found the answers to these questions through dating and courtship—where men took risks to win the lady’s heart, thereby proving that they could succeed and that she was desirable.
But now technology is messing this up. “Alpha girls” are pursuing “Beta boys” through sexting, Facebook, and casual sex. The young men no longer have to risk anything to learn more about their woman of interest, for she now serves it up to him for free, online, and in the privacy of his bedroom. It’s no wonder that these boys never grow up, for they no longer have to mature in order to get what they want. And the Alpha girls are not truly satisfied either, because they are doing the pursuing and so they never really know if the boy wants her.
There are many more insights in iParent, such as the rise of non-committal, teenage hook-ups, homosexual experimentation, and “revenge porn” (where men fantasize about women as a way of getting even with them for being pushed into endless adolescence). But there is enough here to scare every parent into taking control of their child’s wired life.
Don isn’t blaming the children. He says that everything they learned—even their casual view of sex and their inundation with technology—they got from us. They aren’t doing anything they haven’t seen modeled in the older generation. And so Don offers this word of encouragement: Be the kind of person you want your child to be, for most of the time they’ll turn out like you. It just might be a bumpier ride, in this wild, wired world.