The Unmentionables: Sexting & Surfing

New national sexting numbers that have sparked headlines all over the Web about higher-than-ever sexting rates among US youth actually show that 90% have not sent naked photos to someone. Sammy, a San Francisco 16-year-old cited in the Associated Press’s coverage and one of the 10% of youth who have sent “sexts,” told the AP that he probably wouldn’t do it again knowing that sexting could bring felony charges. I think all the above says a lot about the importance of 1) educating teens about this (see ConnectSafely’s tips for starters ) 2) reporting surveys accurately, and 3) applying some critical thinking to breaking news. [In CNET’s coverage, co-director Larry Magid points out that the MTV/AP study of 1,247 14-to-24-year-olds “confirms what many Internet safety experts have been saying for the past several months: Young people are far more likely to experience problems online from their peers or from their own indiscretions than from adult predators.”]


Wow.  Youth are exposed to some serious behavior online (and hell, why not through TV in there, thank you HBO & Cinemax), and there are not enough outlets of education ready & at hand for guidance for youth to understand what they’re emotionally experiencing when confronted with this aggressive/stimulating (enticing?) information they’ve surfed across… That same information affects behaviors on the playground, at lunch, in the halls at school, in games, on the phone, in texts, etc.  A friend of mine had some great insights on this topic as well.  She said,

But with the internet, kids are learning, seeing and talking about these concepts at earlier ages each year. Without proper understanding of the context of sex and how it fits into our lives and our culture, the act of sex become a detached activity. They have a basic misunderstanding of why access is so prevalent and the politics around porn and it’s availability and how it fits into the debate of freedoms of expression. What results is a growing subculture of early teens participating at sex parties or video taping sex acts and posting them on the internet – because they can or because they think it’s an act of expression or simply from peer pressure. If they learn to detach intimacy and love from sex, which is what most porn does, especially from an age when they were not ready developmentally to learn it in the first place, we have a recipe for a disastrous cultural bomb to go off. And I think it already has.’

This goes back to a lot of the content you can see across the net (obviously), phones (sharing or net), tv (anything from over sexualized prime time to HBO/Cinemax), to books (mangas, etc).  There’s a lot of curious information that teases and excites youth made readily available.  How they consume that, and then repurpose on their own?  That’s what we will continue to encounter for some time.

I haven another blog in prep-mode for this conversation that I’m trying to work through.

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  1. December 7, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Passing laws against Sexting and Cyber Bullying is needed but will never eliminate this dangerous practice. But smart parents aren’t letting it happen to their children instead using technology to STOP it… immediately. I’ve got a short blog about that at and there’s more on the website.

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