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Age gives understanding of our parents

Teenagers today don’t really play under the same set of rules many of us had to growing up. Heck, I’m not even sure it is the same game.

It seems like today’s youth face more challenges and at a much younger age than even 15 to 20 years ago when I was in high school.

I remember thinking my parents were so out of touch when they said things like, “back in my day” or “when I was in school.”

Now I find myself saying the same things.

In addition to drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, self esteem and socio-economic issues that have likely existed since the dawn of time, at least at some level, today’s youth face far more high-tech challenges that come from growing up in what has to be considered the Technology Age.

From online stalking to cell phone addiction to an erosion of manual information gathering skills, today’s technology has brought its share of problems to go with the advantages.

And it appears one of the newest pitfalls is one that many people of the older generations haven’t even heard of: Sexting.

Hmm … Didn’t have to worry about that when I was a kid.

Recent studies have shown that approximately one in five teens have sent or received a sexually suggestive photo via text messaging, a practice known as “sexting.”

This new phenomenon grabbed headlines recently as a student in Cincinnati and one in Florida each committed suicide, both of which were tied to their being teased and harassed after embarrassing pics were distributed through their schools via sexting.

With this in mind, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with several other agencies to sponsor a town hall meeting via distance learning to discuss the legal, social and psychological impact of this risky teen behavior.

Students at Green High School and Fairland High School are among the local youth who will be participating via the Internet and by texting questions.

Some adults may dismiss this whole sexting concept as just kids being kids but it is really far more than that.

Having personal photos or video shared with the public can have many social, emotional or criminal consequences.

Just ask Pamela Anderson, John Edwards or Paris Hilton.

Criminal charges of distributing child pornography could be levied in some cases.

Plus, sexting can have dangerous implications as well. Who knows what sexual predator may use the World Wide Web to find a victim?

Since many of us adults didn’t face these types of challenges growing up, it is important that we don’t underestimate this threat.

Being a teen today can’t be easy and it’s important adults are aware of how much the world has changed in even just a few years.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.