With today’s release of “Sex and Tech” the new study from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Cosmo Girl, we now know the realities of the problem of teens “sexting,” sending sexual content via cell phones. We now have statistics to back up the vague sense that many teens are doing something with their cell phones and online that could create a sexual crisis for them.
The study found that at least one in five teens (22% of girls and 18% of boys) say they have electronically sent nude or seminude images of themselves. And 39% of teens have sent sexually suggestive text messages or emails to someone.
Moreover, the study found that what teens are doing electronically affects what they do face-to-face, offline. More than a third (38%) of teens say that exchanging sexy content makes dating or hooking up more likely, and nearly one third of teens (29%) believe those exchanging sexy content are “expected” to date or hook up.
Why are teen girls so eager to pose for scandalous photos? To please guys. An overwhelming 85% of teen girls say that sending sexy photos or messages keeps a guy’s attention. Three-fourths of girls 13 to 16 (76%) say sending sexy images is a “sexy presents” for a boyfriend. Two thirds of teen girls (66%) who have sent sexually suggestive content say that they did to be “fun or flirtatious.”
Many teens don’t seem to understand that sending anything over the cell phone or Internet makes it public. The study confirmed that when sexy content is sent, it is not likely to remain private. More than one in five teen guys (22%) admit to having shared sexually suggestive messages that they received which had been intended to be private. And 39% of boys and 38% of girls have had sexy messages shared with them.
I will be discussing this study on television and I will write more about it here, including what parents can do about this.