Sexting – A Real Problem or An Overreaction?

Sex and the City According to sexologists, anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists, a common denominator amongst humans is the degree to which they think of sex.

Apparently, if we’re not thinking about sex, we’re talking about sex. If we’re not talking about sex, we’re engaged in sex. If we’re not engaged in sex, we’re thinking and talking and planning on becoming engaged in sex. Whew – no wonder I’m so tired all the time!

Given that we all seem to have this supposed preoccupation with sex – is it any wonder then that the Internet, and its associated connected devices, have become a common outlet for erotic fantasies.

Sex and tech, it seems, have come together, (the pun is not intended), and that has generated a Pandora’s box of problems and issues that need to be resolved socially, legally, and I suspect for some; morally.

One of these  problematic issues, is the issue of sex, tech and teens; more precisely – teenaged sexting.

imageIf you are the parent of a teenager, it would be difficult not to be aware of sexting – the practice of sending suggestive photos and videos via text message. It’s an issue that has been a focus of attention in the news recently – at least here in North America.

So is teen sexting a real problem, or is it an example of adult hysteria and overreaction?

Consider the following points:

The sad reality is, contrary to the myth that we have raised, or are raising a “tech savvy” generation – the majority of teenagers, are undereducated when it comes to recognizing the dangers, and threats, that the Internet poses to their personal privacy and safety.

Recent survey results released by the The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy seem to indicate that teen sexting is a problem and not just an overreaction.

Survey statistics:

15 Percent of teenagers who have sent or posted nude or seminude images of themselves say they have done so to someone they only knew online.

48 Percent of teenagers say they have received such messages.

71 Percent of teen girls and 67% of teen guys who have sent or posted sexually suggestive content say they have sent or posted this content to a boyfriend or girlfriend.

21 Percent of teenage girls and 39% of teen boys say they have sent such content to someone they wanted to date or hook up with.

44 Percent of both teen girls and teen boys say it is common for sexually suggestive text messages to get shared with people other than the intended recipient.

36 Percent of teen girls and 39 % of teen boys say it is common for nude or semi-nude photos to get shared with people other than the intended recipient.

51 Percent of teen girls say pressure from a guy is a reason girls send sexy messages or images; only 18 % of teen boys cited pressure from female counterparts as a reason.

66 Percent of teen girls and 60% of teen boys say they did so to be “fun or flirtatious”; their most common reason for sending sexy content.

52 Percent of teenage girls used sexting as a “sexy present” for their boyfriend.

44 Percent of both teen girls and teen boys say they sent sexually suggestive messages or images in response to such content they received.

40 Percent of teenage girls said they sent sexually suggestive messages or images as “a joke.”

34 Percent of teen girls say they sent or posted sexually suggestive content to “feel sexy.”

12 Percent of teen girls felt “pressured” to send sexually suggestive messages or images.

So what’s a concerned parent to do? As a good starting point you should consider pointing your child to Think Before You Post, an online resource from The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The following tips are included on this online resource for your teenager to think about.


Use webcams or post photos online only with your parents’ and guardians’ knowledge and supervision.

Ask yourself if you would be embarrassed if your friends or family saw the pictures or video you post online. If the answer is yes, then you need to stop.

Be aware of what is in the camera’s field of vision and remember to turn the camera off when it is not in use.

Be careful about posting identity-revealing or sexually provocative photos. Don’t post photos of others — even your friends — without permission from your friends’ parents or guardians. Remember – once such images are posted you give up control of them and you can never get them back.

What to report:

Anyone you don’t know who asks you for personal information, photos or videos.

Unsolicited obscene material from people or companies you don’t know.

Misleading URLs on the Internet that point you to sites containing harmful materials rather than what you were looking for.

Anyone who wants to send you photos or videos containing obscene content of individuals 18 and younger. (The possession, manufacturing, or distributing of child pornography is illegal.)

Online enticement for offline sexual activities. (No one should be making sexual invitations to you online – and it’s an especially serious crime for adults to do it.)

If any of the above happens to you or a friend, tell an adult you trust and report it to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline.

For additional information on teenage cell phone usage, checkout “Parental Monitoring And Cellular Phones” on fellow Blogger TechPaul’s site.


Filed under cell phone, Child Safety Internet, Digital Media, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety for Children, Online Safety, Parenting Help, Personal Perspective, Privacy, Sexting, Teenager Internet Safety Tips

8 responses to “Sexting – A Real Problem or An Overreaction?

  1. Mr Mullins, you are a treasure. I will be pointing out this thoughtful article to my readers.
    Is there “media hype/hysteria” around this topic? Yes (that’s what they do — for ratings).
    Is this going on? Oh, yes!
    Does it cause embarrassment, shame, and regret? Yes and yes.

    But I would like to add one more thing for folks to consider: if the subject in the image is under 18, the sender can (and already there are cases in court) be convicted of distributing child pornography.
    The recipient, if they keep a copy, can be gone after just like any other pedophile.

  2. Pingback: Sex Sex Sex and More Sex. And, Teens. « Tech – for Everyone

  3. Pingback: Where Does Your Child Go On The Internet? « Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts

  4. augmeister53

    Thank you for posting this article. It is brought up quite often these days but I have to say as a parent of 9 and 12 year old girls my wife and I almost feel like are hands are tied. Tho’ they might behave at home for the most part, I myself know for a fact that this stuff is happening even at there elementary school and right now my 12 yr. old knows a hell of alot more when it comes to pc/cell ph. savvy. I highy doubt there learning this from teachers but I would love to find the underlying source making this such a popular thing. I know that I’m not crazy about things they are seeing on “you tube”, and alot of the subject matter on some of the “anime” sites online along w/ the subject matter & dialogue on alot of so called kids shows. I’m beginning to think maybe some parents should start getting together (almost like a 12 step group) to teach and/or show how this issue affects many aspects of their lives as they get older. Texting and other explicit images being passed around is just not a healthy habit to get into and I reiterrate, I think parents really don’t know were to begin. A.

    • Bill Mullins

      Hello Augmeister53,

      The points you raise are interesting and bear thinking about.

      Thank you for commenting on such an important issue.


  5. augmeister53

    I couldn’t keep my comment to a “readers digest” version for as much as I wanted to but this is much too seriuos an issue. Some of u will just have to deal w/ it. Sorry!

  6. Pingback: Tips: Your Teenager and the Internet « Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts