Teens and Sexting: Still Very Much An Issue
The other day I was listening to The View. Elisabeth Hasselbeck said that she had been interviewing a group of teenagers about cell phone use. She asked these kids whether any of them had received either a text or picture or if they had been asked to send an “inappropriate” picture of themselves to someone else. Five out of 10 teenagers said yes!
Why are teens sexting? Which piece is more difficult to understand? Taking the photo? Sending it to one person? Or initiating the text?
Well, first let me add a clarification to my response. I think there are three types of suggestive text messages. First there is the “sext,” which I understand to be the texting equivalent of “phone sex.” And then there is the “inappropriate” picture message. And finally, a sexually suggestive, flirty message.
I believe that the first two “types” are extremely dangerous and potentially could ruin a person. Both the sext and picture message walk a fine line between just normal sexual curiosity and porn. While I was at high school I specifically remember (as well as the rest of my classmates) that a girl in my grade sent a nude picture to a boy. Of course the picture was instantly forwarded to EVERYONE in the school and to several students from outside our school, even outside of Ohio.
After the picture had been circulated throughout the high school, the school office announced that anyone caught with the picture on their phone would be sent to the office for having pornographic material on school property. It was a huge deal. I can’t even imagine what the girl must have felt like knowing that every single one of her classmates had seen her naked. She made a really bad judgment call and through her example I think a lot of the girls at my school learned that texting is not in any way a reliable or safe way to send private material.
Personally, I will NEVER EVER send ANYONE an inappropriate picture of myself (not even my boyfriend of over two years) because I know how boys are and as much as I trust him I will not risk it. I think the third type of message, the flirty one, is the best way to go when dealing with guys. Not only does it keep both people safe but it also keeps some sort of mystery in a relationship. I mean if you think about it, if you throw yourself out there in a picture all you are doing is offering yourself up like a piece of meat, and meat is not an attractive thing to be compared to.
I guess all I am saying is when texting a person you are interested in, THINK, “Is this a text or picture that I wouldn’t mind having more than just one person see? If a teacher or adult saw this text would he/she have to turn you and your fellow texter in?” And this isn’t just a rule for girls. Guys too need to watch what they are asking for and sending in return.
To answer your question: I think taking the photo in the first place is the problem. Teenagers will be teenagers and ask all the time for inappropriate pictures. This “viral activity” is just a reality of life today. But, when asked, a person always has the opportunity to say no.
I think teens these days just don’t understand how potentially dangerous texting can be. The other day, I was texting a friend about making plans this Friday night. As I went to send the text, I decided to send it to another friend of mine too, to save time. When I went up to add my friend to the recipient list (the contacts that would receive the text), I saw that the contact I had actually selected was my lacrosse coach! I was glad I saw this before I sent the text because it would’ve just been embarrassing.
Things like this can happen all the time. Imagine if this had been one of these flirty texts that teens send. Just think of what could’ve happened. My coach sees the text, checks who sent it to him, sees that it is one of his players, and kicks me off the team. This kind of thing is the least of the dangers. Teenage sexting is not only totally inappropriate, but it’s also illegal and can get you in major trouble with the law. I think the bigger mistake is taking the picture and saying yes to send it to someone.
The big problem I have with sexting is the loss of control. I understand that teenagers want to experiment a little. Hormones are running wild, and sex is a big part of life. In “the old days,” when we were young, that would be something that involved only one other person. Maybe small group. But you kids need to understand that when you send a picture, you’ve lost all control. That picture could be forwarded, posted and widely distributed on the Internet. Before you send something, you have to realize what the risks are.
As far as initiating the viral activity goes, anything someone puts online has the potential to spread virally (that’s pretty much what the Internet does). What boggles my mind is what will go through that poor teenager’s head when they realize what happened. They will have to make sense out of how they allowed themselves to add such pain to their lives. It’s scary to think how easy it is for stuff like that to happen. I am so relieved that I did not have to live through an embarrassment like that. I am compelled to make sure my siblings stay out of the same trouble.