Sexting is the latest craze among teens. Sexting is a loose term that constitutes any photo, text message, or video that is sent from one cell phone to another. Though the craze dates back all the way to 2005 when it really scratched the surface, it has only gotten more popular. With the technological revolution that defines this generation, sexting is far more common than not. The problem, among many, is that most people that partake in the activity do not understand the implications of it or how severe the consequences can be.
Why the hype?
Well, for middle schoolers and even high schoolers, it’s a way of creating status. If a girl wants to gain attention from a guy, it’s usually assumed that she needs to send a raunchy text message or a nude picture in order to captivate and sustain his attention. Technology makes it convenient to just zap a nude photo over as a means of expressing feelings, whether it be love or lust.
It’s not just girls who are doing it though. Boys and girls send about the same amount of sexual photos. As expected, there’s a definite double standard that applies. Boys who are caught are generally just thought to be boastful while girls are dubbed as sluts or hoes, leaving their reputation tarnished and self esteem low.
Take the story about Washington eighth grader Margarite for example. She sent a full nude photo of herself to her boyfriend at the time and shortly after their break-up, he went on to forward the photo to her former best friend. He thought nothing of it at the time as she claimed to just want to see it, but she then forwarded it to her phone book with a message that read, "Ho Alert! If you think this girl is a whore, then text this to all your friends". Soon after that, it went viral. Most of her peers had heard about the picture if they hadn’t already seen it, and it even made its way onto the phones of nearby and distant high school students. It became even a challenge for Margarite to walk down the hall without feeling shameful or being taunted by other students.
Nude pictures are likely to go viral because of recipient’s tendency to underestimate the importance of the privacy of the photo. A raunchy text may seem more intimate making it less likely to be shared, but with highly accessible porn sites and the extremely sexualized culture that we live in, images seem to be much more downplayed. To most, it’s just a picture that seems completely harmless but on the contrary, it changes how the person is viewed and in turn, treated. The effects are impacting, everlasting, and in cases where the damage is extremely severe, irreversible.
Educate your teen
It’s worth the time to educate your teen about sexting and the implications of it. Many fail to recognize that there is a law that prohibits anyone who is under 18 to be a participant of a sexually explicit image. Participant is defined as a subject, photographer, distributor, or recipient. Under that circumstance, child pornography laws may apply.
An Internet poll conducted for the Associated Press and MTV by Knowledge Networks revealed that 1 in 4 14-to-17-year-olds have been involved in some type of naked sexting. Sexting is a craze that doesn’t seem to be fading any time soon so it’s vital that teens begin understanding the ways in which lives can be altered by sending one little text. The moment that the message leaves the sender’s phone and enters that of the recipient’s, the sender no longer holds any control over what happens with that message. Scary, isn’t it?