For generation upon generation, teens and adults have been sharing sexually indicative and explicit letters, messages, etc., so sexting shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Most teens today are comfortable with documenting their lives online. With the advancement in technology, sexting is the new form of social interaction. Newer technology allows sending pictures, and videos, which are intrinsically more explicit and have greater impact.
Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages and/or photographs, primarily between mobile phones. The term was first popularized in the early 21st century, and is a hybrid of sex and texting, where the latter is meant in the widest sense of sending a text possibly with images.
Sexting as a phenomenon began primarily through the extensive use of text messaging by young people; in fact, young adults use the medium of the text message much more than any other new media to transmit messages of a sexual nature. In a 2013, it was found that sexting is often used to enhance the relationship and sexual satisfaction in a romantic partnership. Apparently, hedonism played a role in inspiring sexting.
It is clear that sexting is a phenomenon that is not constrained to simply unattached individuals looking for fun; it is used by those in intimate relationships to increase feelings of intimacy and closeness one’s partner. For teens, sexting can also act as a prelude (or in lieu of) sexual activity, as an experimental phase for those who are yet to be sexually active, and for those who are hoping to start a relationship with someone.
A joint study by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Cosmo Girl suggests that 20% of teens (ages 13-19) and 33% of young adults (ages 20-26) have shared nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves either via text or by posting online. Teen girls are slightly more likely to do this than boys and 11% of the young teen girls (ages 13-16) confessed of sending evocative photos of themselves.
Sex creates curiosity, which leads to exploration and experimentation—especially with teens. Peer pressure to participate in sex or first love (romantic relationship) could also be the reasons. To the teen who’s in need of this type of attention or in need of love and acceptance, he/she may give in and do something he’ll/she’ll later regret.
Certainly, there are multiple risks accompanies with sexting that often teens do not consider. Teenagers may simply text out of curiosity of sexual activity and it may increase as teenagers enter deeper which can be problematic. Mental stability is also compromised when considering the possible long-term results of sexting. With texts, such as pictures or videos being so accessible, it is inevitable that forms of bullying will occur in some way. Photos that have been solicited to others will undoubtedly put emotional distress on an individual who sent the particular picture or sext. Sexting can compromise social as well as digital reputations.
Technology has pros and cons, unfortunately; some of the cons carry some substantial repercussions. It is important that parents are in the loop with what their teens are doing with technology. Parents must stop treating “Sex” as a taboo subject of discussion; rather create a safe environment to have an open dialogue. The more you talk, the easier it’ll become and the weirdness will begin to wear off. Parents must teach their children that the buck stops with them. The best approach to talking about sexting is to take a non-judgmental and informed approach. Parents need to teach their young teens that it’s okay to have desires and feelings; and at the same time help them think about the possible consequences of their behaviour. Let teens know that as parents one understands how they can be pushed or dared into sending something. It’s better to be part of the solution than the problem.
In a world where we are surrounded by technology, where anything can be copied, sent, posted, and seen by huge audiences, there’s no such thing as being able to control information. While there are many countries, trying to legalize the phenomena of sexting, it is important that teens need to be aware of the thin line that they always need to be cautious about. While 20-30 percent of today’s teens are practicing sexting, on a happier note, we still have about 70-80 percent of teens making sound decisions when it comes to sexting.
For further reading: