The Truth about Sexting

sextingWe live in a society dependent on technology. Most teens can’t remember a time before Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, instant messaging, texting and Skype. Because of this, many teens today are rather comfortable with documenting their lives online; from posting photos and updating their statuses to sending text messages and video calls. These advancements in technology have provided us with limitless access to information. On the surface, this appears to be valuable, but upon closer examination we see that it introduces a new set of safety concerns for individuals, especially minors. This “always on” culture has created an environment where teens can make impulsive decisions that may come back to haunt them.

Three middle school girls in a Massachusetts school district apparently each took a “selfie” without wearing a shirt and “one of the photos was forwarded to one of the girl’s boyfriend”, according to Police Chief Alan R. Gordon of Westborough, Massachusetts. The photos were allegedly shared and wound up in the hands of a 15-year-old freshman boy at Westborough High School. This boy began selling the photos, collecting money in exchange for an email containing the files. The 15-year-old boy has been charged with dissemination of obscene material and will be summoned to Worcester Juvenile Court.

Cell phones and the internet have allowed us to learn from and communicate with each other in ways that seemed unimaginable to people years ago. In the last ten years or so we’ve begun to uncover the benefits of technology and the societal developments that accompany this progression. As with many other things in life, however, it’s not the technology – but rather the misuse of technology that creates problems.

In the case of sexting, sending photos or messages can cause problems, but the real issue is when the content of these messages is shared on social media. In a technologically advanced world where anything can be sent, copied, or posted within seconds, there’s no such thing as privacy. Even if a photo is sent as a statement of your love, as in the example above, technology makes it possible for everyone to see this private message.

According to the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center, a recent national study found that 1% of youth between the ages of 10 and 17 had appeared in or created nude or nearly nude pictures or videos that were sexually explicit in the past year. Unfortunately, this number will only continue to grow with the advancement in technology unless we make an effort to stop this trend. Teens and parents should talk about internet safety and the precautions that must be taken to ensure their protection.
Remember that once you send an image or document something online, it can never be erased. You leave a “digital footprint” of everything you do or say on the internet or on your phone.

Don’t be pressured into something you’ll regret, because although the social pressure may feel big, the potential humiliation can be much worse. One picture that takes just a few seconds to send has the power to change a person’s life forever. Stand up for yourself and for your friends! Be the better person and put an end to this trend. The power is in your hands (literally).