Youth Culture Window
Ashley. Lacey. Britney. The other Ashley. These four girls are some of Mark’s sexiest Facebook friends. In fact, they’re so hot, he’d like to “bang” them. Now, thanks to a new Facebook app, he can find out which ones feel the same.
The tagline says it all: “Anonymously find friends who are down for the night.”
The Tech-Assisted Hook Up
In case you missed Jonathan’s blog about it a few months ago, Bang With Friends is a relatively new app that helps Facebook users discover which of their friends are interested in having sex with them. Here’s how BWF’s website describes the tool:
The anonymous, simple, fun way to find friends who are down for the night. Your friends will never know you’re interested unless they are too! (Completely private & discreet until both friends are down to bang!)It’s a pretty simple process. “Joe” secretly indicates which of his Facebook friends he’d like to have sex with and that list stays private…unless one of those users has also put “Joe” on her list. When there’s a mutual urge, Facebook lets them both know. The designers have streamlined the process to three simple steps: “get the BWF app, select your sexy friends, and start banging.”
But don’t worry; they encourage fornicators…I mean users…to “bang safely.”
This article by TechCrunch goes into more detail about how the app works and claims that there are roughly one million current users. The article also highlights the fact that the app has gone mobile with versions now available for Apple and Android devices.
Now users can get it on…on the go (yet another reason parents need to teach their kids mobile discernment).
A Sign of the (Changing) Times?
The same week this app’s existence came across my radar, the world was also responding to Donna Freitas’ new book entitled The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy. Casual sex is on lots of people’s minds, these days.
Even though I haven’t read her book about the sexual practices of college-aged students, I can infer by the title what her stance is. (Here’s a well-written review of the book’s subject and style.) In her research of 2,500 young people, Freitas claims that 41% of them expressed “sadness” and “despair” about “quick, ostensibly meaningless sexual intimacy.”
Umm…I wonder if Bang With Friends has a warning about that….
But Freitas doesn’t let anyone off the hook when it comes to hooking up. She points a finger at the culture and even those who help define it. She writes, “The sheer amount of repression and suppression of emotion required for living in the context of hookup culture teaches young adults (or tries to teach them) not to feel at all. In pretending that what happens after dark on campus doesn’t matter, we are failing these young people and fooling ourselves about our roles as educators and parents.”
But some disagree with her.
Kate Hakala wrote a lengthy – but in my opinion, VERY flawed – response to Freitas’ book. She begins by stating, “Here are our reasons why we like boning strangers and why we actually aren’t confused or unfulfilled by that decision at all.” Hakala goes on to say that hooking up could help you “get better in bed.” (Yep. It could also help you “get an STI.”) She also says that hooking up allows young people to “stumble into really, really good sex.” (I have so many rebuttals to that statement, I literally don’t know where to begin.)
Both sides admit that the media, politics, and gender roles of this shifting era have an impact on the subject. I agree, which is all the more reason why parents and youth workers need to be in on the ever-evolving conversation.
Managing Apps…Or Something More?
Every smartphone has an “apps management” button that allows the owner to regulate or customize the apps that have been downloaded onto it. But here’s the deal: we need to help kids manage themselves so they know how to manage their apps. Unfortunately, no kid comes with a “management button,” but there are some ways you can influence their thoughts and practices on sexuality.
- Engage them with questions about the Bang With Friends app. You can lecture your teenagers about this app (and others like it), or you can ask them thought-provoking questions that lead them to the right answers. Every school teacher knows that when kids “find the answers” on their own, there’s a much greater likelihood that they fully understand the problem and have gained the confidence to solve it. Here are a few questions to get you going:
- Why do you think an app like this was created in the first place?
- Why would a person use this sort of app?
- How would you respond/react if you learned that your name was on a friend’s list?
- What are some of the consequences of having pre-marital sex?
- Is this app a good way to go about picking sexual partners? Why or why not?
- Show them how the online world impacts the real world. For several years now, we’ve witnessed how young people respond differently to life’s situations when they’re face-to-face with someone versus when they interact with others in front of a screen. Just about everything changes, from friendship development, to bullying, to breaking up, to the ethics of cheating on a test, and more. What many kids seem to forget is that the digital environment greatly affects life’s environment. For instance, putting someone on the Bang With Friends list might cause that person to feel awkward in the future (especially if they have a boyfriend/girlfriend). Our digital lives always impact our real lives…even if those consequences are small and/or delayed.
- Teach the biblical understanding of sex. We’ve got a pretty good idea what the world says about sex: do it whenever you want, with whomever you want, wherever you want, as often as you want. But that’s definitely a limited (and dangerous) view on sex which happens to be a physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual act created by God. Too many parents and youth workers have been guilty of “keeping quiet” when it comes to sex, and teenagers are the ones paying the price for our silence. My friend Jonathan wrote a terrific 5-part article about the dangers of saying “Shhhh!” when it comes to sex and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to engage young people in great conversations about sex, intimacy, and temptation.
This article has focused on the “bang” part of Bang With Friends, but it could just have easily focused on the “friends” portion. In addition to being prepared to discuss sexuality with your teenagers, make sure to keep up-to-date on who they’re “hanging” with, too. Those they “hang” with tend to impact when and who they “bang” with.
David R. Smith
is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth
workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the
gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year,
Ministry By Teenagers
. David provides free
resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org
David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.
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