What are these teens texting about? Sexting is the term used to describe sending and receiving sexually explicit messages, or nude or seminude photographs or videos electronically primarily between cell phones, but can occur between any media-sharing device or technology — ie, e-mail or the Internet. Sexting has been a recognized occurrence for several years and is a global practice among teens and young adults. Despite its prevalence, we know very little about this phenomenon. This is partly because technology is changing rapidly, making it difficult to study.
March 13, -- What happened to the time when if you liked a boy at school you'd pass him a note? While year-old Matthew Younger of Maryland says he has never done anything like this himself, he has seen it happen among his peers. No one gives it that much thought really," says Younger. The dangerous combination of teenagers behaving provocatively and impulsively is not new, but the accessibility to the technology is. With cell phone cameras, they have been handed a tool so easy to use for some it's impossible to pass up. And in the transparent culture built around social networking sites, it all spreads like wildfire. News reports are increasingly documenting legal repercussions after indecent photo appear online. And attorneys say there are many unanswered questions about whether young people who send their own photos could face prosecution for obscenity or child pornography. This year in Wisconsin, a year-old was charged with possessing child pornography after he posted naked pictures of his year-old ex-girlfriend online.
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Sending provocative images over phones is all the rage, but it can go all wrong.
In some teen circles, sexting is an accepted occurrence that happens when people date or are interested in one another. In other instances, it is a one-time lapse in judgment. Regardless of the reason for it, the number of teens using the built-in cameras on their smartphones , iPads, and other electronic devices to take nude or sexually-suggestive pictures is on the rise. But what many teens, and their parents, do not realize are the repercussions that come with these choices. Sexting has some serious consequences not only for the person taking and sending the photos but also for the person on the receiving end.
A significant number of teenagers are sending and receiving sexually explicit cell phone photos, often with little, if any, awareness of the possible psychological, interpersonal, and sometimes legal consequences of doing so. Even many of those who believe there could be serious legal consequences are undeterred and still choose to engage in 'sexting'. New communication technologies play an increasingly important role in the lives of young people, especially adolescents. Instant access to others via online social networks has dramatically changed when, how, and what teens learn about each other and the world. In addition, sexting -- the transfer of sexually explicit pictures via cell phones -- is a new way in which adolescents are exposed to sexual material. In many US states, those sending or receiving nude pictures of individuals under 18 risk charges as serious as possession or distribution of child pornography, carrying penalties that include being listed on a sex offender register. In addition, for those featured in the photos, there may be serious psychological consequences. Strassberg and team looked at how prevalent sexting is among adolescents and how aware, or not, teens are of the potential consequences. They recruited students from a private high school in the southwest US, who completed a questionnaire about their experiences of sexting and their understanding of what consequences they believed were associated with being caught sexting. The students were also asked about their feelings on sending sexually explicit cell phone pictures, for example, in what context it might be right or wrong.