Some Say It's OK for Girls to Go Wild

"What adults don't get is that MySpace and YouTube are very complex and really quite innovative media that have a whole set of conventions of their own, which are not really meant very seriously and not taken very seriously," Broughton explained. "It's not really as personal as it seems."

A New Problem, or an Old One Rehashed?

Some say that teen girls' fascination with itsy-bitsy clothing, misogynistic hip hop music and porn star-esque celebrities can't be dismissed as just another phase in growing up.

Ariel Levy, author of "Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture." believes girls who strive to appear sexy may grow into women who see sex as their only value.

"I think there's an element of generational rebellion and nobody wants to turn into their mother," Levy said of teen girls wearing barely there mini-skirts and thong underwear. "But the extent to which you see that can't be dismissed as only a youthful valiance."

But at its root, Hancock believes that nothing about today's teen problem is really new.

"Every generation thinks that teenagers are going to hell in a hand basket for a variety of reasons," she said. "There isn't any new problem here."

According to Hancock, by dressing provocatively, dancing seductively and posting salacious photos on social networking sites, young women are trying to accomplish a time-honored goal of adolescence: establishing their independence.

"They're breaking away from their parents and authority figures in order to become independent people. These are all just expressions of that," she said. "We like to think of children as completely innocent. So when they do things that are not age appropriate, it freaks people out."

Let's Talk About Sex (to a Point)

Rather than dismiss teenagers' expression of sexuality as a breakdown of values and decency, child development specialist Juvonen suggests parents and school administrators should talk with teens about what it means to display sexuality.

"It's the kind of dialogue that's missing from our schools at the moment: Have you thought about what that kind of picture does to people? What is the likely reaction for people who see that picture? " she said. "It's about adults learning what kids do on the Internet and using that information to help us prepare them to deal with the issues they have not thought about."

For parents still uneasy about MySpace, Friendster and Facebook, Broughton said consider social networking sites from a new angle. In an age where the pressure to weigh less and look hot can overwhelm young women, a teen girl posting her picture on the Internet can be seen as having a healthy self-image.

"Putting up pictures of yourself scantily dressed on MySpace is, in a way, kind of a good sign," he said. "The good news is that it's somebody who isn't horrified by their appearance. Also if they get some positive response, that can be very supportive."

Broughton believes that if parents can stop treating social networking sites as the scourge of the century, they may be able to see how Internet forums can be valuable, even educational, for teenagers.

"If they were not attacked and misunderstood and panicked about, they could be respected as young people in a domain in which they're behaving supportively and democratically," he said.

If nothing else, step back and let kids be kids. Because no amount of interference can stop the adolescent drama from playing out, Hancock's advice is to keep the lines of communication open and stop fretting. Remember -- a Britney Spears-inspired outfit does not a hussy make.

"Don't worry about how they're dressed. You don't have to walk down the hallway of high school with your child," she said. "Relax. This too shall pass."

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