Sexting - Background

Background

The first published use of the term sexting was in a 2005 article in the Sunday Telegraph Magazine. Sexting has since been described as taking place in the UK, Australia, the United States, and Canada.

In a 2008 survey of 1,280 teenagers and young adults of both sexes on Cosmogirl.com sponsored by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 20% of teens (13-20) and 33% of young adults (20-26) had sent nude or semi-nude photographs of themselves electronically. Additionally, 39% of teens and 59% of young adults had sent sexually explicit text messages. A sociologist at Colorado College interviewed 80 students and believes this claim is overblown; she claims "I had them go through their last ten messages, their last ten photos and I never saw it" however recent evidence in the scientific literature has called this conclusion into question.

Indeed, a widely cited 2011 study indicated the previously reported prevalence was exaggerated. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire surveyed 1,560 children and caregivers, reporting that only 2.5 percent of respondents had sent, received or created sexual pictures distributed via cell phone in the previous year. Perhaps shedding light on the over-reporting of earlier studies, the researchers found that the figure rose to 9.6% when the definition was broadened from images prosecutable as child pornography to any suggestive image, not necessarily nude ones.

Despite this, a recent 2012 study conducted by the University of Utah Department of Psychology has received wide international media attention for calling into question the findings reported by the University of New Hampshire researchers. In the University of Utah study, researchers Donald S. Strassberg, Ryan Kelly McKinnon, Michael A. Sustaíta and Jordan Rullo surveyed 606 teenagers ages 14–18 and found that nearly 20 percent of the students said they had sent a sexually explicit image of themselves via cell phone, and nearly twice as many said that they had received a sexually explicit picture. Of those receiving such a picture, over 25 percent indicated that they had forwarded it to others. In addition, of those who had sent a sexually explicit picture, over a third had done so despite believing that there could be serious legal and other consequences if they got caught. Students who had sent a picture by cell phone were more likely than others to find the activity acceptable. Strassberg, McKinnon, et al. note: "The news-worthiness of derives from figure being far below (by a factor of 5 or more) the prevalence rates reported in the previous surveys. However, while technically accurate, the 2.5% figure is actually rather misleading. As seen in Table 1 of their publication, Mitchell et al. found that among the quarter of their sample that were ages 10–12, 0.6% 'appeared in, created, or received a nude or nearly nude image' while among those age 15–17, 15% of participants reported having done so. Despite it being widely reported in the media, the overall prevalence figure of 2.5% masks a dramatic age effect that indicates that more than 1 in 8 mid-teen minors admit to having sexted." Strassberg, McKinnon, et al. conclude: "These results argue for educational efforts such as cell phone safety assemblies, awareness days, integration into class curriculum and teacher training, designed to raise awareness about the potential consequences of sexting among young people."

According to the Washington Post sexting, a portmanteau word composed of "sex" and "texting", can be described as "sending sexually explicit photos by cell phone". In the modern days people referred to it as "phone sex". It became very popular in the early 2000s when teens started purchasing camera phones. It was originally used as a form of communication for couples that were in long distance relationships. "Talking dirty" and sending both nude and semi-nude photos were used to help your relationship last and add "spice". In 2012 the Canadian Living Sex Survey stated that 36% of people have sent sexy videos or photos to their partner, which is a 30% increase from the previous year. Although sexting is done by different age groups, most individuals are exposed to it during the early teens. Sexting attracts most teenagers because they are innocent and curious about sex and sexuality.

Read more about this topic:  Sexting

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