As of currently, there are various and serious debates on the issue of teen sexting. Teen sexting, by definition, refers to the teens sending sexually explicit images, words or other messages through text. Nonetheless, many or various stories have been told about teen sexting, especially cases whereby the high school students resort to sending or posting strings of their friend’s naked bodies online. The elements or evidence of such behaviors are some of the serious indications as to why teen sexting should be reconsidered or regarded as a serious issue. Conversely, more evidence of teen sexting as a grave concern is emerging with the legislators recommending laws or regulations to bring perpetrators into book. In addition, from psychological perspective, various perspectives have been brought forth as regards to teen sexting especially on the psychological ramifications on the victims. For instance, there have been few incidences of teens driven into suicide when images or their pictures are widely spread on the internet or through texts. In addition, cases of harassment and bullying have been on the rise because of sexting. Moreover, some articles are currently recommending or suggesting that
From psychological perspective, teen sexting is much attributed to profound negative effects on the emotional health and well-being of the individuals (O’Sullivan 9). Especially, the emotional effects or impacts are much attributed to the case whereby the act backfires and the images or pictures are found in the wrong hands. Most of the teens are attributed to this problem because they often feel that they are invisible and as such, their acts can be concealed. In this regard, a teenager will still engage in the act of sexting even when he or she has the strong belief that he is not going to be caught. In most cases, the emotional impacts or implications are both for the victim and the perpetrator. For the victim, the serious emotional impacts are because of embarrassment that comes with one having his or her images leaked to unknown people, friends or even ending to the relatives (Fleschler Peskin et al. 457). On the other hand, being exposed as the one who sent an a sexually explicit image can be very damaging for the individual, brings shame, and as such, leads to isolation and alienation from peers. Therefore, the emotional impacts or effects of sexting are much grave and everything should be done to ensure that teens are controlled or those who are used to sexting others brought to book.
Conversely, sexting has been considered to bring about serious emotional problems on the teens more so through bullying (Dir et al.569). In most cases, other teens may end up soliciting images from others and use them bullying targeted individuals, more so when they have grudges or in bad relations with their peers. Eventually, a harsh world is created for a teen to live because those whose pictures have been leaked always feel the shame and embarrassment of having their pictures exposed. In addition, disappointment and fear makes the possibilities of bullying even worse. It is a more grave concern the individual exposed to bullying feel the shame and fear of reporting being bullied because of getting into further trouble or more bullying. In this case, it creates a world whereby a teen is caught in a specific world where there is no escaping or the way out of their problems. Accordingly, bullying is a serious and much problem for the teens which should not be tolerated at all costs (Alvarez 1205). Therefore, for arguments or solutions to curb the problem of sexting, the negative effects on bullying have to be further considered, and all the options weighed on whether the consequences are much high to warrant action, even supported by empirical research. As such, given that sexting results in emotional impacts or effects through exposing the individuals to become victims of bullying, it should be regarded as serious problem and action promptly taken on the perpetrators.
In addition, the emotional effects or an impact of sexting is on the reputation of the victims. In essence, social reputation is comprised because there is a bad and negative image of a person portrayed to peers, the entire school and even among families (Champion and Cory 205). The victim who always walks around in shame and has low self-esteem because of having been exposed to peers. In the same sense, from a psychological perspective, teens are at a specific stage whereby image and respect among peers matters a lot because they are establishing themselves among the group of friends, peers and even the relationships they have with their families. Moreover, the current modernity is defined by a greater digital presence whereby people form and define their relationships based on the image they portray through the social networking sites like social media (JIN et al. 815). In the event a youth or a teenager is portrayed negatively, his or her digital reputation is greatly compromised. The online platform is where information or message can spread very fast. In essence, when the image is posted on the internet, it spreads very fast, as many people will save the image or even tag others. Furthermore, the image remains in the digital environment from such a long time and may resurface some other days or years, from which the image or reputational damage is compromised for such a long period of time. Since social media is currently defining and influencing behaviors, characters and what people do, prospective employers may look into a person’s social media profile which they can learn about a person’s behaviors (Broaddus and Julia 393). Nonetheless, colleges are currently look into a person’s digital interactions and activities. The negative or nude pictures posted can cause the teenage a chance to college entry and in the future, can lead to one not being employed.
Another reason as to why sexting should addressed as a major issue or concern is that it presents higher chances of exposing or leading youths into sex. Accordingly, studies have taken into engaging in empirical explorations linking sexting to grave sexual consequences among the adolescents. In light of such considerations Rice et al (667) engaged in a research whose emphasis was on finding or linking sexting and sexually risky behaviors among the youths. On the other hand, the study was grounded by the fact that as of currently, there is no data based on probability-based sample examining he link between sexual activity and sexting. The study was based or focused on 1839 students from a behavioral study among the high school students in Los Angeles. The study was also based on a logistic regression for assessing the correlation on sexting and the link or association to sexual risk-taking. The study findings revealed that around 15% of the sample or teens owing cell phones reported cases of sexting with another 54% indicating that they knew someone who engaged in the act of sending nude texts (Ricenet al. 667). In addition, for the individual adolescents whose peers engaged in the act of sexting were also most likely to sext. Further findings of the study revealed that adolescents who sexted reported being sexually active. From such studies, a major conclusion made is that sexting, although currently considered or viewed as the alternative to viewing sexual risk behavior from the real world, it is actually a cluster of the risky behavior for the adolescents. From the study, a recommendation was made for clinicians to focus on positive engagement with their clients as regards to sexting. In addition, one of the major areas currently being recommended as preventive mechanisms on adolescents is on advising them to avert any negative behaviors attributed to sexting because it is one of the reasons for the sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, the study suggested that, for most schools, there should be discussed aimed or focused at identifying and teaching adolescents about the dangers of engaging in sexting, and as such, be embedded into the school-based sexual health education or curriculum.
However, on the other hand, there are some of the major arguments put across suggesting that sexting could not be as bad or negative as currently portrayed in the media (Walrave et al. 87). Some studies have shown or reported that most of the adolescents are having positive experiences with sexting. In addition, such justifications or reports are based on the fact that sexting is not dangerous as portrayed. Essentially, it is believed that media always report the negative parts or perspectives of sexting without focusing on some of the positive sides which could be attributed to sexting. As such, the different perspectives on the dangers of sexing are gender-based. For instance, females are not likely to support sexting because society has the specific view on males in that being promiscuous, therefore, should not be viewed as a negative behavior. In addition, females always regret the sending of nude photos because they are more concerned about what others will think about them and that they are not harmed by the action (Walrave et al. 85). Hence, the discomfort on sexting is much attributed to the negative image or perspective that the older generation is having about teenagers, or younger generation. The debate about sexting, hence, should be viewed or regarded from the perspective of the socially accepted behaviors among different generations. If weighed from the viewpoint of differences in generations, adults are the ones more concerned about sexting which is currently a new culture accepted by the younger generation. Hence, in this argument, all the perspectives should be explored, more so why adults are fast at condemning adolescents.
Nonetheless, others have argued that the age limit should be set for sext texting. Primarily, the emphasis has been on some of the possible negative consequences, especially how sexting could harm the adolescent’s brain, mental stability (Van Ouytsel et al. 204). However, the opposing views are of the opinion that the adults recommending an age limit for sexting among the adolescents are indirectly basing their take on the issue based on the need to address adolescents having sexual relations at such a tender age. The older generation is exercising its powers on the adolescents by recommending the age limit which a person should sext and be apprehended for a criminal activity. A better argument or position on the problem is that sexting should be regarded as a problem for both the younger and older generation. Ethically, it is not right and moral to send nude pictures or share images of others without their consent irrespective of the age. Hence, there is the inherent need of having a newer perspective of sexting by not defining the ground rules for the younger generation but instead, focusing on balancing the take on the issue, especially on setting the age limit for sexting. Moreover, some of the arguments are based on defining sexting as an adult form of communication. Instead of having such biased argument for setting the age limit for sexting, there is the inherent need on defining what warrants texting as an issue for legal action (Lee et al. 205). Laws should not be based on arguing that sexting is solely for the adults. Instead, legal actions against teens that sext should be based on concrete and substantive reasons and not that they have engaged specifically in an adult form or means of communication.
From the above argument, there have been points outlined about sexting among teens, more so on the negative consequences. One of the reasons as to why sexting should be relooked as a serious is the psychological and emotional implications among teenagers. In essence, sexting is attributed to problems like bullying when a teenager is trolled for his or her image appearing on various sites and aired in the public. Another inherent concern is that sexting is much accredited to sexual-risky behaviors among teenagers. Studies have equally confirmed that the action is the reason as to why adolescents are introduced too sex at a very tender age which usually leads to such serious health risks like STIs and unwanted pregnancies. However, others argue that sexting has positive effects and that media is always focused on identifying the negative side. Instead, there should be a refocus on the issue by basing the general conclusion on sexting as dangerous from substantive research and evidence confirming whether the negative effects outweigh the negative implications. In addition, setting the legal age or the age limit for developing laws or regulations for curbing sexting should also consider what sexting means, whether it is a form of adult communication and the reason as to why adults cannot be held accounting for sending naked pictures or images through text.
- Alvarez, Antonia R.G. “‘IH8U’: Confronting Cyberbullying and Exploring the Use of Cybertools in Teen Dating Relationships.” Journal of Clinical Psychology, vol. 68, no. 11, Nov. 2012, pp. 1205-1215. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1002/jclp.21920.
- Broaddus, Michelle and Julia Dickson-Gomez. “The Uses of Texting in Sexual Relationships Scale: Associations with Risky Sexual Behavior among At-Risk African American Emerging Adults.” AIDS Education & Prevention, vol. 28, no. 5, Oct. 2016, pp. 393-404. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1521/aeap.2016.28.5.393.
- Champion, Amanda R. and Cory L. Pedersen. “Investigating Differences between Sexters and Non-Sexters on Attitudes, Subjective Norms, and Risky Sexual Behaviours.” Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, vol. 24, no. 3, Dec. 2015, pp. 205-214. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3138/cjhs.243-A5.
- Dir, Allyson L., et al. “Understanding Differences in Sexting Behaviors across Gender, Relationship Status, and Sexual Identity, and the Role of Expectancies in Sexting.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, vol. 16, no. 8, Aug. 2013, pp. 568-574.
- Fleschler Peskin, Melissa, et al. “Prevalence and Patterns of Sexting among Ethnic Minority Urban High School Students.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, vol. 16, no. 6, June 2013, pp. 454-459. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0452.
- JIN, CHOI, et al. “Effects of Adolescent Smartphone Addiction on Cybersexual Delinquency.” Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, vol. 45, no. 5, June 2017, pp. 819-831. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2224/sbp.5916.
- Lee, Chang-Hun, et al. “Effects of Self-Control, Social Control, and Social Learning on Sexting Behavior among South Korean Youths.” Youth & Society, vol. 48, no. 2, Mar. 2016, pp. 242-264. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/0044118X13490762.
- O’Sullivan, Lucia F. “Linking Online Sexual Activities to Health Outcomes among Teens.” New Directions for Child & Adolescent Development, vol. 2014, no. 144, Summer2014, pp. 37-51. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1002/cad.20059.
- Rice, Eric, et al. “Sexually Explicit Cell Phone Messaging Associated with Sexual Risk among Adolescents.” Pediatrics, vol. 130, no. 4, Oct. 2012, pp. 667-673. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1542/peds 2012-0021.
- Van Ouytsel, Joris, et al. “Sexting: Between Thrill and Fear—How Schools Can Respond.” Clearing House, vol. 87, no. 5, Sept. 2014, pp. 204-212. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00098655.2014.918532.
- Walrave, Michel, et al. “Under Pressure to Sext? Applying the Theory of Planned Behaviour to Adolescent Sexting.” Behaviour & Information Technology, vol. 33, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 85-97. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/0144929X.2013.837099.