The Resurgence of the Sex-Obsessed Youth (Or Maybe Not)

Is technology warping today's youth? A historical perspective.

Posted Feb 14, 2011

Before we move on with our exploration of technology's impact on sexual activity, particularly fears that young people (and their sexual functioning) are being neurologically warped by the multiple media that inundate their lives, let's take a brief but informative historical tour. The information in this posting is from a fascinating speech given by Bill Taverner, editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Sexuality Education, at the Center for Family Life Education's 2010 Sex Ed Conference.

Taverner described two historically recurring themes regarding young people. The first is young people are wilder and more unmanageable than preceding generations. Consider this quote: "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

Any guess when this was written? Admittedly the word "dainties" immediately alerts you to the fact the quote is antiquated. But just how antiquated? It's a translation of Socrates. Thus it seems fears regarding the increasing incorrigibility of youth has a L-O-N-G history.

There is also an enduring belief that young people are more likely to engage in casual sex in comparison to generations past. At this point in his presentation, Taverner offered three sets of lyrics promoting casual sex. The first asked listeners to shake their bodies "like a Polaroid picture" (from the hit single "Hey Ya!" by Outkast). The second offered an account of a woman who kissed a girl, enjoyed the experience, but hopes her boyfriend doesn't mind (Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It."). The third set of lyrics described a woman tricking her boyfriend into performing analingus on her. Any guesses as to the author? I was stumped too. It is a bit of poetry from Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" written in the 14th century.

As we further delve into technology and sex, let's remember that fears about youth sexuality, particularly casual sex, have been in existence for innumerable generations. We're not the first generation to have these fears, and we certainly won't be the last.