Sometimes it seems the gentle winds of change can turn into a thundering tornado of stupidity.

I'm referring to this report out of Australia which suggests "sexting" - the practice of mainly teenage girls and boys sending explicit photos to their beloved via cellphone - should be viewed by parents as a normal act of courtship.

I have to ask myself on what planet should that be considered normal?

Those of us from an era when you could buy a mince pie and a doughnut from the school tuck shop and still have change from 50 cents will know what I mean.


Back then if you were a bit on the shy side you got your mate to put in a good word for you, and if you were lucky, after lots of whispers and giggles between the various groups, you ended up with a girlfriend or boyfriend.

Some stunned guys I know have been married for decades and didn't even know how it happened - "One day I was walking to class humming along to Abba and next thing I know I'm married with a mortgage and no hair left ..."

Hmm, maybe Abba has a lot to answer for. But I digress.

We didn't have cellphones back then. But we did have pencils and paper and some of us were good artists. But we didn't draw a picture of our perkier bits and send them to the hottie we'd been seeing down the road. And we didn't because, well, you just don't do you? It's just wrong.

Now I understand teenagers are not right in the head. Literally.

I know they are still growing and hormones are racing around and colliding with emotions, sexuality and all that other stuff. I have had teenage daughters. I swear sometimes you can hear the hormones of friendly males pounding on the door to get in. It's obvious there is not a lot of self policing as it were and that is understandable.

So you'd think that would be the time to step up, be a good parent and remind them that things such as sexting are risky.

It's most certainly not the time to accept it as "normal" like it's part of their school camp checklist - "Have you got your permission slip? What about your asthma inhaler? And don't forget that sexy picture on your phone for that girl in your class. I do like that one. My haven't you grown? We really must get a copy and send it to nana."


Trust me. I think nana would prefer a Lotto ticket or flowers.

So. While our teens are in a state of hormonal upheaval it is up to us, the parents, to stand up and guide them. Maybe even pointing out that that "sext" message could end up in the wrong hands and result in some unintended and uncomfortable consequences for all concerned.

If you've been there you know how the conversation with your teen is going to go. Deep breath people.

Of course that couldn't happen. I know exactly what I'm doing. You don't understand. There's no chance anything like that would end up on the internet. I love him/her, they would never do that to me etc.

Phew, I forgot. Teenage love is forever. Unless of course you are Taylor Swift and make a living writing songs about all your break-ups.

But let's swallow our old fart embarrassment, be there for them and remind our teens that "sexting" really isn't appropriate and those images could end up anywhere.

And perhaps we should explain it's not just silly Warriors league players and Shortland Street stars who get caught out.

Kevin Page has been a journalist for 34 years. He hasn't made enough money to retire after writing about serious topics for years so he's giving humour a shot instead.