While celebrity naked selfies arguably get more attention than they deserve, the fact is that the practice of sending naked selfies to a boyfriend or girlfriend is one that needs a serious look.
The Great Australian Sex Census has found that up to half of all Australians have at one point or another sent a naked selfie to someone. Three out of five Australian males admit to storing and/or sending such photos to others, as do one in five Australian females.
Experts offer varying reasons as to why this phenomenon has become so popular in recent years. Many note that the practice of taking naked photos and giving them to a significant other has been around for many years; however, the invention and widespread popularity of cell phones (and accompanying apps such as Snapchat) have made it easier than ever to take photos and then send them to someone. Others make the point that the selfie culture has made the practice of taking naked selfies more common than it was in times past; these experts also point out the fact that the practice of taking naked selfies is in many cases driven by low self-esteem and/or narcissism. This is borne out by the fact that many people seem more driven to take nude pictures of themselves at the beginning of a relationship; once such individuals are in a steady relationship, the number of naked photos being taken tends to decrease.
Basic Facts that Everyone Should Know About Naked Selfies
While the debate rages as to why people take naked selfies and how appropriate such selfies are, there are some indisputable facts in place that every single person should be aware of before getting undressed in front of the phone camera:
- Taking a naked photo of yourself on your phone can result in such a photo being leaked online. It is not uncommon for a jealous ex-boyfriend or girlfriend to spread naked photos of an ex around, along with snide accompanying comments. There have also been instances where naked photos were posted after a person’s (or his or her significant other’s) phone has been hacked or stolen. In short, there is no guarantee that a photo that was meant to remain private will in fact remain private.
- Naked photos that were meant to be anonymous will not necessarily remain that way. Your face may not be included in the photo but this does not mean that people cannot track who you are and where you live, work or study.
- Naked, semi-naked and suggestive photos can affect your educational and work opportunities. While Facebook has discouraged Australian employers from asking prospective employees for the password to their Facebook account, the practice is not entirely uncommon, nor is it illegal. The fact is that schools and companies want to know more about applicants before accepting them and so will often look at the applicant’s Facebook and/or other social media accounts or do a search for the person’s name on Google to determine if the individual in question is honest, conscientious and/or a good worker. If a prospective school or employer finds naked pictures of the individual in question, this person is generally passed over in favour of someone else.
What Parents Should Know About Naked Selfies
It is not uncommon for young teens to take naked selfies of themselves and then send these to an existing or prospective boyfriend or girlfriend. Naked female selfies are more common than naked male ones; even so, both young teen boys and girls need to be educated as to why this practice is a bad idea.
Aside from the dangers outlined above, there are other dangers that are particular to young, vulnerable teen boys and girls who take naked photos of themselves. Aside from the points outlined above, following are some more things that parents will want to explain to their youngsters when giving them a mobile phone.
- While young love often feels like true love, it rarely is. Most young people who get together with someone in high school do not remain with the person for the long-term. Relationships break up, falter and fail for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the immaturity of both parties involved. When a relationship goes sour, the last thing a young person wants is to have his or her naked photos in the hands of an ex who may then circulate them around the school and/or post them online.
- Hacking is a very real danger for anyone who takes naked selfies. Mobile phones are not entirely secure, as evidenced by the fact that even celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence have had their phones hacked and their naked photos placed online for the whole world to see. Cloud service providers are also far from secure and many hackers can and do access them on a regular basis.
- Taking suggestive photos and then posting them online puts a young person in danger of sexual harassment. There are, unfortunately, many predators who target young, underage teenagers who post suggestive photos, thinking that such young people will be an easy target.
- A young man or woman who is caught in possession of naked selfies of another underage person can be legally charged with possession of pornography. Those who distribute these photos (even if the other person has given permission to do so) may face even more serious charges. Criminal charges stay on a person’s record for life, affecting where the individual in question can live, what type of job he can work at, which school he can or cannot go to and more.
Parents have both a moral and legal responsibility to ensure that their underage teenagers use their cell phones in a suitable, age appropriate manner. Whether or not adults should be taking naked selfies and sending them to others is debatable; whether underage young people should be doing so is not. No person under the age of 18 should take a naked or even suggestive photo of him or herself, much less send it to another person. The potential consequences are simply too severe and few if any young people are prepared to handle them. In fact, a number of young people have even committed or attempted to commit suicide after suggestive photos of themselves popped up online without their permission.
Parents who give their children a cell phone should make it very clear to them that having a mobile phone is a privilege, not a right. As such, the phone can be taken away if misused. Parents simply must keep an eye on a child’s online activity and make sure the child is not posting suggestive photos online or taking and storing such photos with the phone; if a child does not comply with the guidelines set down by the parents, the phone should be taken away for a predetermined period of time.
Is it Possible to Securely Take Naked Selfies?
Some people wonder if it is possible to take naked selfies and send them to another person in a secure manner. The fact is that the answer to this question is there is no 100% foolproof way of taking naked pictures of oneself and ensuring that these do not wind up somewhere where they are not meant to go. Hacking, human error and the risk that the original recipient will at some point want revenge against the person who originally sent him or her the naked photo make the practice of taking nude or semi-nude photos dangerous.
Even so, there are some methods of taking and sending naked photos that are safer than others. Husbands and wives who want to exchange graphic images of themselves with each other may want to consider the Disckreet phone app. Unlike the cloud and/or other photo sharing apps, this app requires that both partners log in at the same time in order to view and/or access the photos stored on the app. This prevents not only hacking but also the deliberate spread of intimate photos after a break-up.
Another alternative would be to simply take the photos and keep them stored on an encrypted hard drive rather than online or on a phone. While storing suggestive photos on a computer does not ensure that they will not be misused or posted online without your consent, it does make it harder for them to be hacked, as most computers have better security features than the average mobile phone; additionally, the theft of personal computers is not nearly as common as mobile phone theft.
The idea of taking and sharing naked selfies is extremely popular in Australia and will likely continue to be popular for the foreseeable future. However, this does not necessarily mean that a young man or woman should feel obligated to take naked photos of him or herself and send them to someone either as part of the courtship process or while in a serious relationship. Taking naked photos and sending them to someone is fraught with risks, as hackers can easily access the photos or the individual who originally received the photos may at some point get angry at the person in question and decide to post the photos online. When this happens, it is a long-term disaster, as photos posted online are very difficult if not impossible to entirely get rid of. Adults who feel they absolutely must take naked photos of themselves will want to take measures to ensure that these photos remain secure at all times.
Parents of young people need to explain to their offspring the dangers of taking naked photos of oneself. Unlike adults, young people do not have the right determine if and how taking naked photos of themselves is safe or a good idea. Young teens who take naked pictures of themselves are making themselves vulnerable to abuse and/or harassment; what is more, young people caught possessing naked photos of one or more underage person can face legal charges that will have lifelong implications. If teenagers take and/or store nude or suggestive images of themselves with a mobile device, then this device should be confiscated for a pre-determined period of time.
Young people (and adults as well) also need to learn how to withstand the pressure to take naked pictures and send them to someone they love. Such a person may enjoy having these pictures on hand but this does not mean that an individual needs to put him or herself in a compromised position. Saying no may be hard but it is in many cases the right thing to do. If a person really loves you, he or she will understand you reluctance to take naked photos of yourself instead of insisting that you do so as a requirement for continuing the relationship.