Why Guard Children Against Sexting?
Engaging in sexting activities is on the rise among teens. It often leads to grave consequences. Children need to be actively informed of this new threat to their security and psychosocial well being Studies show that exchange of nude and semi nude pictures through cell phones is not an uncommon activity seen among today’s teens.
Blinded by glamorization of sexually suggestive language and images by media, teens’ immature judgment makes them believe that engaging in sexting is part of attaining adulthood and the desire to fit into norms of adult society is aroused.
This is further accentuated by peer group influences, which present exchange of sexually explicit pictures and text as all fun and a little flirtation.
The immature minds have internet facilities at their finger tips. In their impulsive moments sexting activity is initiated via cell phones, a common possession of teens today. They download, create and/or even themselves appear in sexually explicit nude images/videos.
At the onset, most do not realize that they have thus embarked on producing “child pornography”, a criminal offence. After basking for few days in the bliss of creativity, new experiences, feeling of achievement, fun and flirtation, serious consequences begin to erupt.
The fun becomes an agony: cyber bullying, a blackmail threat or even being booked by police for possessing child pornography pictures and videos.
Why do teens these days post sexually suggestive content?
- Free access to internet from the privacy of personal cell phones makes it is easy for teens to try out their creative skills on sex related fantasies.
- The anonymity of internet allows teens to indulge into posting sexually explicit text and nude images to have cheap thrills at the cost of others. Such pranks and jokes quickly catch the fancy of the mass, which then, through internet, travel far and wide into cyber space.
- Gentle coaxing with sugared flattery from a relationship partner clouds the immature minds’ judgements.
Teens do experience conflict and embarrassment at the prospects of sending their sexually explicit images and messages in to cyberspace.
Most of them are even aware that participating in sexting activities could be potentially dangerous, but the pleasure of satisfying the partner gets the better of them and they participate in it anyway.
- Peer pressure idealizes sexting as the exciting venture appropriate for the children developing into young adults.
With the changes occurring in their physical characteristics and puberty associated hormonal surge, children in their teens are naturally inquisitive about developing instincts.
Without a second thought, they easily venture into the unknown domain and begin sharing semi-nude and nude images pepped with matched text messages.
- They indulge in sexting with the notion that it is a sexy present to a partner in a relationship and a proof of their sexuality to peers.
- They believe that exchanging sexy pictures and text could bring romance in the relationship.
- With a desire to start a relationship, they indulge in sending sexually explicit pictures to attract attention of the opposite sex.
- Idolization of their role models in film industry, and so follow the model’s bad behavior on screen in their own real life.
Why is sexting dangerous?
- Falls in the criteria of child pornography.
Sexting implies sending sexual images and corresponding texts via cell phone and other electronic devices.
The innocent fun soon crosses the limits of decency. Even minors are pulled into nude image sharing, which fall under the criteria of child pornography and the laws attached to it.
- Images once posted are impossible to retrieve or delete completely.
The speed of internet and the undefined horizons of cyber space not only carry nude images far and wide in a flash of moment, but also make it impossible to retrieve completely.
- Exists most among disturbed children.
Studies have shown that sexting activity is most commonly seen among children with undesirable social activities. Most of them are also alcoholics and substance abusers. Almost 50 percent of them are found to be suffering from severe childhood depression.
Reports further highlight that 20 percent of the children and youths, who participated in exchanging sexually explicit pictures, did it under peer pressure. Consequently, teenagers involved in sexting activities are potential victims for cyber bullying and much more.
- Unhealthy impact on real life attitude.
i) Get in to frivolous dating.
ii) Willingness to participate in dating activities is taken for granted.
iii) Shy unprepared children, unable to express sexually in real life, experiment it via cell phone.
iv) Leads to emotional upheaval: disturbed behavior, not at ease, anxious and worried.
v) Authorities like, parents, teachers or even police discover the possession of sexually explicit images and text, which leads to unpleasant consequences.
vi) The sender is never taken seriously and respectfully by the receiver of sexually explicit electronic messages and images.
vii) They are looked upon as sex objects fit for one night stands, but not for any lasting relationship.
viii) Studies have shown that 50 percent of sexters suffer from severe depression. However, whether depression is the cause or effect of engaging in sexts is not yet clear.
- Internet anonymity is a false notion.
The digital foot prints of internet browsers are traceable. If desired, any individual can be traced only by the screen name, online profile, phone number or email address.
- Hope of confidentiality is a big mistake.
Assuming that the posts will remain confidential and only with the person they are intended to be for, is a big mistake.
i) In internet confidentiality is challenged by possibility of hacking into any information.
ii) The messages and pictures are often shared, distributed and forwarded. Studies show that 50 percent of youngsters, who received sexting posts, received the posts including nude images that were actually being circulated and were certainly not meant to be shared.
iii) These pictures eventually reach pedophiles.
A report from Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center says, “Sexting has also resulted in intimate images of children being posted on websites used by pedophiles without the knowledge of the sender.”
Normal psychosocial behavior during teen years does not support this new trend of appearing in, creating, or receiving sexually explicit nude images, an activity that is noted among young children in recent years.
Is there an adult brain behind all this?
Are children being used as a tool to produce child pornography?
Who is using children’s innocence, immaturity and children themselves to produce unlawful child pornography films? I am sure that he law keepers are already on the look out. But we have to protect our children.
Actively educate children on the repercussions of sexting
- Actively educate our children on the repercussions of sexting before they are exposed to it in their environment. Parents have to take up this difficult challenge to open a bilateral dialect with their children on the implications of possessing and sharing sexually explicit images of minors.
- Children should be made to feel confident of their parents' understanding and that they are free to discusses their doubts and experiences.
- Children should also know that possession and sharing of sexually explicit nude images of minors is a criminal offense and so they should immediately delete sexts if they receive one. Such SMS or MMS should never be shared or forwarded.
- Armed with knowledge and parental support teens will be able to stand up to the pressure for participating in any form of sexting.
- Parents should also instill appropriate internet usage culture.
- During teens’ gathering, parents should collect the cell phones, to minimize the chances of impulsively indulgence into sexting activity.
- Parents should make it their business to know their child’s friends and mingle with them as friends that is to say - parents minus the authoritative approach.
- Parents should set high expectations for their children and exude trust in their abilities, which helps to build children’s self esteem.
Related pages of interest are indexed in the right column
Media Effects on Child Health
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