Sex and the Internet: Teens in Danger

To better understand the world of the web teenager, we embarked the psychoanalyst and sex therapist Alain Héril for a few hours of virtual discoveries on teen sites. From Facebook to Skyblog, to frightening territories ... a challenging but informative journey, which he returned upset.

Anne Pichon

Our teenagers photograph themselves at every turn, from every angle, with all the instruments they have: camera, smartphone , webcam ... The web is their world, they make it grow as they grow, feeding it with their images. This planetary ogre sometimes spits the photo of a scruffy boy, shirt and pants unbuttoned, that of a girl too young, too makeup, too bare. We all know these images, but we all feel a little ignorant, a little outdated. And we are blown away by this superpowered generation.

On the web, teens believe in safety

Technologies, uses, customs, they know everything - all confused - better than us. This is often true. So we stifle this little voice that tells us that something is wrong. That we express our concern, and they reassure us: they are not fooled. The web is for fake. Virtual. The pictures are not the real life. They master. But woe to one of us who has already surprised a young person in a scabrous situation - a difficult experience that no one should escape in the future, as the production of images is racing: what to say, what to do? How to talk to him without breaking into his intimacy? Without disturbing him? Can we even be shocked by what is not really true?

"It's quite the opposite," says psychoanalyst and sex therapist Alain Héril, "images can be virtual, but what they feel is real, and when they expose themselves, they become more vulnerable." The Internet is anything but a place protected from the eyes of others, and our teenagers believe they are safe. They often feel very alone. This is why "it is urgent that adults get involved," says the therapist. Cautiously, we visited this adolescent planet, as mysterious as it is easy to access. As forbidden as open to the world. Even with Alain Héril as guide, the experience was not painless. We come back strengthened in our belief that we must not leave them alone.

The tribulations of a psychiatrist and mother of teens on the Internet

When I was a little girl, a friend of the family varnished my nails in pink once a year, braving the protests from my mother who, as a good feminist, did not look favorably on her daughter being introduced to these artefacts of submission to male power.But my mother, delighted deep down, let it go, and I was thrilled. I was going to flaunt my fingertips everywhere. It's my turn to apply polish to my niece, Louise, 12 years and a half. And it's on Facebook that the little girl runs out. Eyes outrageously makeup, cleavage vertiginous, she reveals her nascent breasts under the fan of her pink nails: but what did I do?


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