When smartphones first came out, no one could have foreseen the changes they would have on communication and interpersonal dynamics. The ability to send private pictures and hide behind texts has paved the way for “sexting”, a new trend among today’s youth.
Many young girls especially are admitting that they feel pressured, even bullied, into taking sexual photos of themselves. And whereas in days past, guys would brag amongst themselves about a sexual encounter, now they can show photos to everyone at school.
It’s events like this that can leave a young girl demoralized and lacking self-esteem, feelings that are often carried over into adulthood. Sexting is not just harmless fun. It can be illegal depending on the ages of the parties involved and can lead to sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and cyber bullying.
Researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE) in partnership with the Institute of Education and King’s College conducted a study of 35 adolescents aged 13 to 15 to examine sexting more in-depth. The results of the study showed that sexualized recordings were floating around in significant numbers. One male surveyed admitted he had 30 such videos on his phone.
Another finding was that teens felt prepared to ward off strangers but didn’t know how to say no when it came to their own peers. Young girls were more apt to feel coerced into sending images that they weren’t comfortable with than boys. Yet many girls admitted that they didn’t say anything because they didn’t want to draw unwanted attention to themselves for fear of the label of a “slut”.
Investigators are calling for educators to be trained regarding smartphone technology so that they are better prepared to protect potential victims. Parents, they say, should also speak to their children regarding the dangers of sexting.