Ugh! Phones, Photos, and Puberty

Four sixth- and seventh-graders in Alabama were arrested for taking and sending nude photos of themselves with their cellphones. The two boys and two girls “were charged with possession of material harmful to minors, a misdemeanor,” the Birmingham (Ala.) Press-Register reports, adding that “the law was intended to prevent copies of hardcore pornography from sitting on the same shelves as Sports Illustrated and Newsweek magazine.” A police officer told the Press-Register that adults convicted of “similar crimes” face sentences of up to a year in a jail and a fine of up to $10,000, but these students “will likely face punishment ranging ‘from probation to a correctional program like a boot camp’.”


Okay, so I was rambling the other day about my learning experience regarding a certain cybersafety conversation @ sxsw – basically talking about how youth + cementing web = unfair auditing in later years.

Well, I had been describing one side of it – how having a social-growth issue online (friend spats, youthful revenge, stupid remarks, etc) could haunt for many years, or be misconstrued for something worse and do more than individual-hurt (perhaps employers will be less judgemental about tattoos and more about web presence… it’s kinda happening now. I myself have refused to hire someone based upon the ubver-questionable/inappropriate web content I found).

Well, here we go… another example about why we have to keep talking about personal information & the web with our tater tots. Doing something as stupid as taking nudey pictures and sending them around via phone cam could be more than just PUBLIC HUMILIATION, but also have legal ramifications. Yikes.

Vanessa Hutchenson! Oh, dear dear dear. Perhaps it would rock if she became a bit more public about choices and learning. I’ve heard bits and pieces about her speaking at schools about her Scarlet Letter (N for Nudey Pics, of course). Ideally, this is where I’d like Linda Ellerbee to do a NICK NEWS presentation about identity online. Vanessa could help her out.

I dunno… this stuff just scares the crap out of me. There’s no way for parents to control this stuff really. Sure there are great phones like Kajeet, but even then there is a chance. Too many variables in the world. Unless you plan on living the life in a bomb shelter, good luck. Think about it – when 7 girls have a sleep over, it only takes one phone to spread questionable pictures (thank you, Miley Cyrus- who happened to be innocent in her pictures, but it’s just another example of how content can be quickly misconstrued). Again, you may protect your kid with certain types of equipment, but that doesn’t mean her/his friends will be just as protected.

The best armor is honest communication and understanding. MOST VIRTUAL CHOICES HAVE REAL WORLD CONSEQUENCES. It’s a fact that we will have to hammer home.

My learning lessons like this:

(FYI, I’m even embarrassed to talk about it – but sometimes you have to see the darkside to know what to expect) When I lived abroad, someone I knew for a long time was unkind to my family. Angry and upset and acting immature, I wrote a scathing (yet truthful) email to another person whom I had considered a friend… well, click click, that email left her hands and traveled into the webosphere, eventually making it back to the original offender, who then threatened to sue my family. Everything was easily sorted out (thank god for small favors) but it left a nasty scar on me/bad taste in my mouth.

Hands slapped (by myself mostly– stupid stupid me) and I learned my lesson.

That was a mostly-private exchange of immaturity (and I was adult-ish… emphasis on the ish). I cannot imagine what it would be like to go through something so publicly humiliating as what these kids are going through.

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