Ever heard about sexting? Well, apparently, it’s all the rage now. Stats say that at least 1 in 5 teens has been involved in it. Yikes! So don’t think that because you haven’t caught your teen or child in the act, they haven’t done it.
Sexting is a phrase coined from the morphing of the two words actively involved; ‘Sex’ and ‘Texting’. Because of the increased use of this phrase, in 2010, the Oxford English Dictionary added the word to their lexicon. They defined it as “the sending of sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone”. Although these images are mostly sent and received using mobile phones, they also could be done using a laptop computer or tablet.
From a health perspective, multiple studies have found that teens’ and tweens’ engagement in sexting is related to sexual risk behaviours and substance use. Sexting has also been associated with conducts such as delinquency.
Sexting is associated with psychological and emotional states among adolescents, such as emotional distress, feeling sad and contemplating suicide. Often when a person forwards sexts to others, it causes shame to the sender. It can cause depression among other things. Hence the need for us to talk to our children about sexting.
Children (Teens and Tweens) engage in sexting for many reasons. Because it’s a safe means to sex (as one cannot get STIs or pregnant from it). Because they are pressured to by their boyfriends/girlfriends. Or maybe because of peer pressure to be “cool”.
Gerwitz-Meydan, Mitchell, & Rothman (2018), in their study on 10 to 17-year-olds, have the following findings on what kids think about sexting.
Sexting as a crime
Sexting was only considered as a crime by the percentage of the population who were not engaging in it. Those involved in sexting were and are less likely to consider it a crime.
Sexting and their Future
Frequent sexters did not consider or think that sexting would interfere with their friendships, romantic relationships, their relationship with their family, or their likelihood of getting a job.
General Attitude to Sexting
Boys and older teens/children held more positive attitudes about sexting than girls and younger teens/children. This is accurate because, in another research by Strassberg, Cann & Velarde (2017) on high school students, about 16% of males (compared to 14% of females) have sent sexts in the last 6 months or are still sending.
41% of males (compared to 31% of females) have received nude photographs within the last 6 months or are still receiving. With these statistics, it’s very evident that boys have a more favourable attitude to it.
Reporting Sexting to the Authorities
Similarly, boys were less likely to report sexting to authorities and less likely to talk to their friends about sexting prevention.
Sexting and Other Vices
Youth who reported substance use or had ever had sexual intercourse, and intentionally watched porn were less likely to think sexting hurts friendships or relationships. They are less likely to report sexting than youth not involved in these activities.
Just from this research alone, you can see that sexting is associated with too many vices. This only emphasizes the need for age-appropriate sex talks and sexting prevention discussions with our children.
Sexting is voluntary. So the only way to keep your teens safe from its effects is to talk to them about it.