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Table Talk – More Conversation Starters About Internet Safety

Last Updated: August 5, 2021

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Using fresh news stories can be a great way for parents to spark discussions with their kids and teens about how to be a good cyber citizen. “Table Talk” is a new series on Breaking Free, passing along headlines related to Internet temptations and dangers.. . . .

Making the most of a stupid music video

If you follow viral video sensations you’ve probably seen pop singer Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” If you listen to music for profound and moving lyrics, then Black’s hit single is probably not for you. Gawker.com pointed out that it may be the worst music video ever. No comment.

One of the backup dancers for the video, known as the “that girl in pink who can’t dance,” in real life is Benni Cinkle, a 14-year-old student from Anaheim Hill, California. When Facebook fan pages started springing up dedicated to her, she actually began responding to questions and comments from her “fans.” Since then, she has tried to use her semi-celebrity status for good causes: doing a flash mob video to raise funds for earthquake relief in Japan, writing an e-book about the dangers cyberbullying, and raising money for cystic fibrosis. You can read more about her on her site, ThatGirlInPink.org.

A recent New York Times article featuring Benni talks a lot about the phenomenon of viral video celebrities in youth culture.

Conversation Questions:

  • If you unintentionally became a YouTube sensation overnight, how might you use your new fame?
  • What do you think about the way Benni is handling the good and bad attention she’s receiving?
  • What do you think about the “anybody could be a celebrity” culture made possible by sites like YouTube?

Sexting Leads to Blackmail for Sex

Recently a 19-year-old man was arrested for blackmailing a 15-year-old girl for sex. Still awaiting trial in August, Thomas Hutchinson allegedly used MyYearbook.com to coerce women to send him nude photos. Claiming to be able to connect this young woman to someone in the modeling industry, she eventually sent him nude pictures and videos, which he then threatened to post online unless she had sex with his “friend” (i.e. him). She may not be his only victim.

While not very common, these cases of blackmailing predators do happen from time to time.

Conversation Questions:

  • What do you think leads a person to send a naked picture of themselves to a person they’ve never met?
  • What should the girl have done after she started receiving messages of blackmail?
  • How can the things we post online later come back to haunt us?

Should sexting teens be treated like criminals?

Last week a bill was signed into Rhode Island law making “sexting” officially illegal. Minors who create and transmit a sexually explicit image of themselves can now be charged with a “status” offense in Family Court (a status offense is an act that is only considered illegal when committed by a young person, such a truancy). In addition, those who possess or forward sexually explicit images of another minor can be prosecuted under the state’s child pornography laws. If convicted, this would mean the person would be registered as a sex offender.

What does this mean? Say, for instance, a 14-year-old girl, in a moment of stupidity, sends a nude picture to her boyfriend who, after they break up, posts it on Facebook. The girl might be charged with a status offense. The boy might be charged with disseminating child porn.

Conversation Questions:

  • Should child porn laws be applied to cases of teens who sext to one another?
  • Should there be stricter penalties for those who pass on sexting images vs. those who create them?
  • Why do you think sexting has become so popular these days?