According to a new study, published in the July 2012 issue of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine more than a quarter of teens have shared naked pictures of themselves through text or email and about 31% of teens have asked someone for a “sext.” Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones. It is very prevalent among today’s adolescents, and there is a high correlation between sexting and other self-reported behaviours, including dating, sex and risky sexual behaviours — such as having multiple sex partners and using substances before sex.
With all the advancements in technology, it is no wonder that dirty messages are flinging across the airwaves. Instant cameras attached to devices that can share photos in the blink of an eye, coupled with the impulsivity and risqué sexual behaviours of a hormonal pubescent teen, equals sexting. While sexting can have legal and social ramifications of its own (child pornography charges, reputations ruined, personal photos published, etc.); it’s the associated behaviours that cause the real damage. What is important to note is that ‘sexting’ teens are 82% more likely to be having sex compared to the non-sexting teens! Furthermore, it’s riskier sex!!! Is the technology causing the behaviour?
Sexting is more likely the result of teens’ attitudes towards sex than the cause of them. “It may be a reliable indicator of actual sexual behavior,” says researcher Jeff R. Temple, PhD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Health. In May, British officials issued a report stating that teenage girls are experiencing increasing pressure to text and email sexually explicit pictures of themselves, with many accepting it “as a fact of life.”
So if this truly is an indicator of where our youth is sexually, what can we or should we do? Some media outlets, like MTV, have started to address the issue by warning teens of the potential risks associated with sexting. Sites like thatsnotcool.com bring the issues related to teens and technology to the forefront and allow kids to join the conversation and be educated. Parents have to talk to their kids and educate themselves on the realities of a modern day teenager. In some cases, a therapist or a psychiatrist may be called for, depending on how risky and/or frequent the behaviour is. There are many resources for parents coping with sexually active teens and pre-teens. For example, there are online articles from experts, forums for discussion amongst parents, as well as, real life support groups for both parents and teens.
Craig Steinberg has been in the web industry since 1996 and is the owner of Web by Craig, a Montréal-based web and marketing services company. Whatever your online needs, WbC can help you, from consultation and training to design, print and programming. We do it all (well almost). Remember: