No longer do teens communicate by talking. “It’s like all about texting.” Unfortunately, this depersonalization of communication clouds our kids judgement about what is and what is not appropriate.
Many young kids are sending each other nude photos or videos via their cell phones or via email.
If you ask a teen about this, I’m sure that they know someone who has done this.
This trend is known as “sexting” and its grown so serious that Verizon is funding a new Web-based program to educate youth about its dangers.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com commissioned a survey of teens and young adults that are sending and posting sexually suggestive test messages and images.
This is the first public study of its kind to quantify the proportion of teens and young adults that are sending or posting sexually suggestive text and images.
A total of 1,280 teens and young adults took this survey. 653 teens (ages 13-19) and 627 young adults (ages20-26)—between September 25, 2008 and October 3, 2008.
Additional data from the survey
A significant number of teens have electronically sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves.
How many teens say they have sent / posted nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves?
20% of teens overall
22% of teen girls
18% of teen boys
11% of young teen girls (ages 13-16)
Sending and posting nude or semi-nude photos or videos starts at a young age and becomes even more frequent as teens become young adults.
How many young adults are sending or posting nude or semi nude images of themselves?
33% of young adults overall
36% of young adult women
31% of young adult men
Sexually suggestive messages (text, email, IM) are even more prevalent than sexually suggestive images.
How many teens are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages?
39% of all teens
37% of teen girls
40% of teen boys
48% of teens say they have received such messages
How many young adults are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages?
59% of all young adults
56% of young adult women
62% of young adult men
64% of young adults say they have received such messages
Although most teens and young adults who send sexually suggestive content are sending it to boyfriends/ girlfriends, others say they are sending such material to those they want to hook up with or to someone they only know online.
Who are these sexually suggestive messages and images being sent to?
71% of teen girls and 67% of teen guys who have sent or posted sexually suggestive content say they have sent/posted this content to a boyfriend/girlfriend.
21% of teen girls and 39% of teen boys say they have sent such content to someone they wanted to date or hook up with.
15% of teens who have sent or posted nude/semi nude images of themselves say they have done so to someone they only knew online.
83% of young adult women and 75% of young adult men who have sent sexually suggestive content say they have sent/posted such material to a boyfriend/girlfriend.
21% of young adult women and 30% of young adult men who have sent/posted sexually suggestive content have done so to someone they wanted to date or hook up with.
15% of young adult women and 23% of young adult men who have sent sexually suggestive material say they have done so to someone they only knew online.
How Do I know if my child is sexting?
Ask them – but if your kid was anything like me as a child its unlikely that you’ll get the truth.
If you believe your child may be participating in this kind of behavior you can investigate to find out for sure. You can also take steps to manage /restrict their access and communication that your children are receiving and sending via cellphones and the Internet. Some suggestions are blocking texting on their phones or restricting their administrative privileges on the computer and then increasing the mature content screening on their computers.
Look through their pictures on their computer and cell phones, log onto their Face Book or My Space accounts. Sometimes checking their friends My Space account can reveal info on your child. If you find anything that is disturbing it is time for a discussion.
It is important for kids to understand the dangers and how things like this could affect them in the future. Many of the things that are posted on the Internet do not go away.