22 Mar Sexting
One thing that social media and the internet have done is to increase the amount of images that are bombarding us at every turn. Fifty years ago, people had access to a handful of TV stations, an array of magazines and daily newspapers and books. These were the main sources of images. Today, we have access to images across a much wider scale. Not only do we have countless TV channels through cableTV, but we have apps that are specifically designed to share images constantly.
But the content of some of those images is highly sexualized, particularly some of the celebrities that teens follow. According to Nancy Jo Sales, author of “American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers,” images in the youth culture are much more likely to be “liked” if they are sexual in nature. This is creating a culture where young teens are placing an emphasis on looking sexy at a time when they are just beginning to understand their sexuality. As a result, many young girls feel pressure to sext.
Sexting is when you send nude or partially nude or sexually suggestive photos of yourself to someone, usually through mobile devices. Below are the two most important reasons why you should never sext.
First, any nude or partially nude photos of anyone under the age of 18 is considered to be child pornography WHICH IS ILLEGAL. So if a 16 year old girl sends a topless picture of herself to her 16 year old boyfriend, her boyfriend is now in possession of child pornography according to the law. Possession is a felony and anyone over 18 can go to jail for that, under age 18 the punishment is determined by juvenile courts but still considered serious under the law.
Second, photos are easily shared. Many teens who have shared a private photo with their girlfriend or boyfriend were thinking it would never be passed along or viewed by anyone else. However, in many cases, the relationship then ends and unfortunately, some people don’t behave well in break ups. Some people will then share those private photos. In addition, some people don’t always tell the truth. They may say they won’t show it to anyone else, but then may secretly believe it’s “cool” to show others what they have.
Both these situations have caused countless teens unbelievable amounts of pain and regret because once you hit send, you can never regain control of the photo. And “never” is a very long time.
To avoid having this happen to you, be mindful of what you are sending. Always ask yourself, Would I be ok with this being shared with the school and/or with my parents? If the answer is “no” then imagine what might happen if the school or your parents found out. If you are freaked out about those thoughts, then do not hit send.
For a little more advice about how to handle technology so that it works for you, rather than against you, check out the next sub-post.
Why do you think a young teen might sext? What is your advice about sexting?