“Sexting” is the practice of sending sexually explicit texts, photos, or videos via cell phone. “It’s almost the normal order of operation now,” says one man. “You text back and forth and pretty soon you’re exchanging hot photos.”
Why do people do it? The way some teenagers see it, “having a naked picture of your significant other on your cellphone is an advertisement that you’re sexually active,” says a senior deputy prosecuting attorney quoted in The New York Times. “It’s an electronic hickey.” One teenager even calls it a form of “safe sex.” After all, she says, “you can’t get pregnant from it and you can’t transmit S.T.D.’s.”
Other reasons teenagers sext include the following:
To flirt with someone they hope to be in a relationship with.
Because someone has already sent them an explicit photo and they feel pressured to ‘return the favor.’
What are the consequences of sexting?
Once you send a photo via cell phone, you no longer own it, nor can you control how it might be used—or how it will affect your reputation. “Mistakes and transgressions have never been so easily transmitted and archived for others to see,” says Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist and author of a Pew Research Center report on sexting.
In some cases Nude photos have been mass-forwarded by the recipient to entertain his friends.
Jilted boyfriends have distributed nude photos as a way to get revenge.
DID YOU KNOW? In many cases, sexting nude photos has been considered the same as child abuse or distributing child pornography. Some minors who have sexted have even been prosecuted as sex offenders.
Never take or send a photo of yourself that you wouldn’t want your parents to see.
Assume that any picture you send will be seen by others, with or without your permission.
Before deleting any explicit photo you receive, report it to an adult—perhaps a parent, a teacher, or a school counselor.