Sexting – dialogue involving the sending of erotic materials by mobile telephone – has become more popular as the technology it depends on has developed. Sexting can be a great way for two adults to maintain a long-distance relationship or simply to spice things up. However, there may be more to sexting than you realise. Below there are some statistics that you may find surprising. Most people keep their sexting conversations private, but sometimes these conversations are revealed to the public, which can be particularly scandalous, especially when it involves politicians or other celebrities. This article focuses on how sexting concerns teens, and what parents should be aware of.
The Meaning of Sexting
The United States Court System actually has a definition of the term sexting. According to them, sexting is an act of sending sexually explicit materials through the use of a mobile phone. This includes anything from text messages to photos or videos. Essentially, anything of a sexual nature shared between two people by phone, other than a direst telephone conversation, is considered sexting.
There are all sorts of reasons why someone might choose to send or receive sexts. According to DoSomething.org, teenage girls have several different reasons behind why they engage in sexting conversations. Here are some statistics on sexting that might surprise you:
- First, 40 per cent of teenage girls claim to do it as a joke, where no actual sexual meaning is placed behind it. One girl might text an illicit phrase to another friend as a joke, but not intend any sort of sexual meaning.
- 34 per cent of girls say they do it to feel sexy. Teenage girls do this in order to feel good about themselves. They might like the responses and the complements they receive. They may use this to improve their self-confidence. It is difficult for many teenage girls to feel good about themselves physically, so receiving sexually charged text messages is often a way that they seek approval and self-validation.
- 12 per cent of teenage girls say they feel pressured to do it. They might have a boyfriend who forces them to do it, even if they do not feel all that comfortable about it.
- 17 per cent of sexts are eventually shared. Of the 17 per cent, 55 per cent of those texts are shared more than one time and between more than one other person.
- 61 per cent of all teenagers who sext one another also share nude images of themselves, and 100 per cent of these individuals say they felt pressured to do so at least once.
- Almost 40 per cent of all teenagers have shared at least one sexually suggestive image to another person, although this does not necessarily mean the image contains any nudity.
Options for Parents
For a parent, protecting a child is job number one. Many parents do not want their children sexting, especially at a younger age or while in the house. Each parent is going to have a different set of guidelines, so the information below is intended to serve as a set of general ideas rather than a hard-and-fast rulebook for parents with teens:
- It is not necessary to wait until there is a problem to start talking to your child about sex issues. Once these situations have arisen, it can be more difficult to stop them. It can feel a bit uncomfortable for some parents, but ultimately it is a good idea to talk about sex with your teen.
- A parent needs to remind their children that once an image is sent, it can’t be unsent. It can become impossible to control where an image is shared to or who will see it.
- It is very important to remind a child that if they do receive a sext message from anyone who is under the age of consent, it is essential for them to delete it right away. Simply having this on your phone is legally the same as holding child pornography. It doesn’t matter what age the owner of the phone is. Sending or sharing such images is another very serious crime.
Teens today face decisions that did not exist for their parents’ generation. The technologies that are available now create a labyrinth of moral issues that can be very hard to navigate. Sexting isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a teen that is over the age of consent, however some cultures or family value systems will view this as completely inappropriate.
Whatever choices a teen makes, it is important that those choices are his or her own. Sexting shouldn’t be done simply in response to pressure from another. If this is something that you would rather not do, then you need to avoid this sort of situation all together. If someone is not able to understand why you don’t want to him or her sexual messages, then you might want to look elsewhere for companionship. It is a way to grow closer together in a strong relationship, especially when you or your partner are on the road, as it can help maintain a sexual bond between the two of you. However, as younger and younger children start to share this sort of material, it is very important for parents to take into account what might possibly transpire between their child and a stranger. There is a lot of value in having a comprehensive conversation with your teen about sexual issues, as awkward as this can be.