Monday, February 21, 2011

Dangers of Sexting

Sexting. What exactly is that anyway?
Simply put, it is defined as the act of sending sexually explicit content, usually between cell phones. And, it has become far too common between teens and young adults. The statistics are alarming. As many as one in five teens have sent sexually suggestive photos of themselves to someone else. That's ONE in FIVE. And, a study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy shows a third have received such images. In focus groups, teens told researchers that sexting is used to experiment with sexuality or as part of a sexual relationship.

But, when it comes to the law, keep in mind that many states view this as child pornography. Teens, as well as adults, have been charged with distribution and possession of child pornography. While some states are re-examining the law, it is still a bad... very bad idea.

For one thing, you can never be absolutely certain of who will receive or see these images. Certainly, you never intended for Joe in your Algebra class to see these images, but maybe you selected the wrong address when you hit "send" or maybe the person to whom you did send these images decided they would then share them with Joe. And with Michael. And with Robert. And with your best friend, Sarah. Well, you get the idea. The evening news has covered more than one teen committing suicide because of this exact scenario. 
In this very fast-paced world of social media, teens and young adults are quick to share information with others. For them it is completely normal and just good fun. Yet, many do not think about who they are sharing information with and the consequences that may arise. We all know teens think, "oh, that would never happen to me." But, more and more, we are all learning how this technology we love can also work against us. And, so quickly. Those images move with lightning speed through Facebook, email and cell phones. Once something like this takes off, its hard to stop it.

I could throw out more statistics and court cases, believe you me there is a lot of information out there on this subject, but I think you get the idea. This is a topic that deserves everyone's attention. Teens, especially, need to be reminded about making wise choices when sharing content with others. They need to be aware of what could happen, even if they don't think it could ever happen to them.
Teach students the dangers of sexting with our new DVD, Sexting: Sex Plus Text Equals Trouble.