Sexting is the receiving or sending sexually suggestive or sexually explicit messages (texts, videos, or photos), usually through mobile devices. Contrary to usual belief, most teens do not participate in this kind of activity. According to research, just 12% of middle school and high school students in the United States had sent nude videos or photos of themselves to other people at some point in their life.
More or less, 20% said that they had received explicit images or videos from someone else. Recent reviews show that 15% of teens had sent sexually suggestive photos or videos, and at least 20% had received sexually suggestive content. It is also unusual for young adults to actively ask other individuals for sexts.
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According to a 2016 study, less than 10% of teens had asked someone for nude images or videos, and only around 15% said they had been asked. In short, this activity is not an epidemic that the mainstream media usually portrays. With that being said, some young adults are exchanging sexually explicit images.
Not only that, recent data suggest that the number is starting to increase dramatically. According to newly collected but unpublished data from more or less 5,000 respondents aged 12 to 17 years old, 14% had sent sexually suggestive content, and 23% received one. These numbers represent a dramatic increase of 22% for receiving and 13% for sending from what was found five years ago.
Studies suggest that participation in this activity is associated with increased risks of involvement in risky behaviors and cyberbullying victimization. These behaviors include those sexual in nature. These concerns and fear of exploitation by predators, as well as a moral panic over the thought of kids and young teens sharing these contents, have resulted in a predicament for young adults who participate in these risky behaviors.
Safe sexting and safe sex
Generally speaking, emphasizing the avoidance of these risky behaviors through abstinence has proven ineffective. Studies consistently show the failure of sex education that only focuses on abstinence. It failed to delay the introduction of sex, stop the spread of STDs or Sexually Transmitted Diseases, or prevent teen pregnancies.
Want to know more about STD? Check out https://medlineplus.gov/sexuallytransmitteddiseases.html for info.
Although it is still offered across the United States, individual states differ in how they promote abstinence-only, over more extensive safe-sex courses, which include messages of abstinence but with education about STDs and contraception. In reality, teens have always experimented, especially with their sexuality, and some are doing this through sexting.
Recognizing this, it is an excellent chance to move beyond fear-based and abstinence-only sexting education. Instead, people should provide students with the knowledge they sorely need to make an informed decision when doing these activities with their peers.
Like traditional safe sex education, safe sexting courses would involve teaching teens about the consequences of participating in this activity, as well as equipping them with the needed knowledge to lessen the harms that may result. It is not encouraging sexting or encouraging these individuals to have unprotected sex. It recognizes the reality that teens are sexually curious.
Some will experiment with different behaviors with or without adults’ guidance. Listed below are some suggested tips encapsulated in specific and actionable messages to share with teens in certain formal or informal content after weighing their sexual and developmental maturity.
If someone sends a sext message through platforms like snap sext, don’t show it or send it to other individuals. It could be considered as a non-consensual sharing of pornographic materials. Laws are prohibiting it and can outline severe penalties (especially with minors).
If a person sends someone sext content, they need to make sure they fully know and trust the other party. Catfishing is an activity where a person sets up a fraudulent profile or pretends to be another person to lure a victim into a fake romantic relationship. It happens more often than people think. Individuals can never really know if they will share the content with another person or post it on the Internet, but don’t send videos or photos to individuals you do not know that well.
Don’t send content to someone who you’re not certain would like to see it. People need to make sure they receive consent that they are interested in receiving these contents. Sending unsolicited content to other people can lead to criminal charges.