The Sex Talk Every Teen Needs

In 2021, pregnancy isn’t the conversation — technology is

Kate Green Tripp
Debugger
3 min readMay 26, 2021

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Photo: Bruno Martins/Unsplash

There’s a saying in my house.

Or rather, there’s something Mom (that’s me) says to the teenagers who live in my house: “Please have sex in a field.”

I’ll let the weirdness of that sink in while I brace for impact on this end. My kids are sure to melt when they discover Mom wrote that down for strangers and hit publish. But too bad for them, because it’s time to move our family traditions into the light. I’m frankly convinced that more kids need the field talk.

Here’s why.

As anyone with teenagers in the weirdly dystopian digital age can attest, parenting adolescents today might fairly be described as waging daily war against the overlords of technology.

Every morning around here, the sun rises and Mom and the iPhone square off. The scuffle is a battle for attention — specifically adolescent attention, a particularly fleeting varietal.

Mom typically enters the scene at a heavy disadvantage. She is human (strike 1), insistent on nutrition and manners (strike 2), and she can’t speak TikTok (game over). The iPhone, however, shows neither weakness nor mercy and has never met a language or platform it can’t master. It is unflappable and sleek — devouring every morsel of focus and curiosity within reach. Once in a while, though, Mom squeaks out a surprise victory over the device thanks to a power move some consider unfair: she is the iPhone’s landlord.

Mom is fighting for household attention to center on old world habits (eating, sleeping, and learning to name a few). The iPhone would prefer to cancel (or distort) all of the above. After countless defeats, Mom is slowly learning to lay down arms in certain moments (lazy weekend mornings) while fortifying efforts in others.

Enter sex in a field.

First, a few points of order: Mom does not urge anyone to follow said advice now, tomorrow, or even next week. The guidance assumes a few things: a healthy, consenting relationship coupled with a heavy dose (years, preferably) of body awareness and sex education. Participants need to be ready and smart and safe and all the things.

Yet, Mom is no dummy about what is to come once adolescent fascination with sexuality peaks. She knows it will grow and thrive regardless of even the most sophisticated counterintelligence measures, so she abandons those. Instead, her plea is singular: leave the iPhone out of it.

Drilling down to the fine print, Mom emphatically advises against taking, sending, or requesting nudes because c’mon people, the internet is forever and so are bad manners. She further requests that no one mistake the ease of device in hand for a short cut into the complex domain of emotion and lust (at any age, really). More on that here. She appreciates and acknowledges that Gen Z is far more aware and conscious of contraception and sexual health than their teenage predecessors, so that’s a win.

And finally, she implores you, dear child, to accept that when your time comes, you will be weird and awkward and inexperienced in your naked urgency. And that no device can save you or change that. So yeah, please have sex in a field. Pick a field, any field. Phones generally don’t work there anyway, but bodies do. Be safe and have fun.

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Kate Green Tripp
Debugger

Writer / Editor / Strategist. Comms Director, Stanford Impact Labs. I chase ideas & shape stories about science, society & innovation. Mostly, I belong outside.