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Archive for Friday, December 4, 2009

‘Sexting’ is more common among kids than you might think

December 4, 2009

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— Think your kid is not “sexting”? Think again.

Sexting — sharing sexually explicit photos, videos and chat by cell phone or online — is fairly commonplace among young people, despite sometimes grim consequences for those who do it. More than a quarter of young people have been involved in sexting in some form, an Associated Press-MTV poll found.

That includes Sammy, a 16-year-old from the San Francisco Bay Area who asked that his last name not be used.

Sammy said he had shared naked pictures of himself with girlfriends. He also shared naked pictures of someone else that a friend had sent him.

What he didn’t realize at the time was that young people across the country — in Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania — have faced charges, in some cases felony charges, for sending nude pictures.

“That’s why I probably wouldn’t do it again,” Sammy said.

Yet, “I just don’t see it as that big of a problem, personally.”

That was the view of nearly half of those surveyed who have been involved in sexting. The other half said it’s a serious problem — and did it anyway. Knowing there might be consequences hasn’t stopped them.

“There’s definitely the invincibility factor that young people feel,” said Kathleen Bogle, a sociology professor at La Salle University in Philadelphia and author of the book “Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus.”

Beyond feeling invincible, young people also have a much different view of sexual photos that might be posted online, Bogle said. They don’t think about the idea that those photos might wind up in the hands of potential employers or college admissions officers, she said.

“Sometimes they think of it as a joke; they have a laugh about it,” Bogle said. “In some cases, it’s seen as flirtation. They’re thinking of it as something far less serious and aren’t thinking of it as consequences down the road or who can get hold of this information.”

Sexting doesn’t stop with teenagers. Young adults are even more likely to have sexted; one-third of them said they had been involved in sexting, compared with about one-quarter of teenagers.

The AP-MTV poll was conducted Sept. 11-22, and involved online interviews with 1,247 teenagers and adults ages 14-24.

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