By Nancy Travers
“ SexTing” is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days. With technology so readily available, it was only a matter of time until our sexuality made its way to our cell phones. SEXTing refers to anyone sending sexually explicit messages or racy photos to partners, peers, or the public; this trend originally referred to use of cell phone cameras and messaging, but now encompasses email and social media transmissions.
This racy trend has gotten the attention of the public, including law makers, parents, teachers, bosses, and most people who are in relationships. Many people, ranging from teenagers to mature adults, are using SEXTing to attract the attention of a potential partner, spice up their sex life, and even engage in cyber-affairs. What seems to be an innocent flirtation might be more onerous than some people think. Negative effects of SEXTing include:
• Photos or videos meant for a private audience can be shared among others
• Digital images leave a footprint online. Once pictures have made their way online, it can be difficult or impossible to remove them
• Some SEXTing is currently illegal, especially if committed by someone underage.
With such obvious negative possibilities, you might think that this act would be left to the young and fool-hearty. In fact, SEXTing was originally thought to be a problem just among teens and the younger generation. The popularity has since spread and now it seems like everyone has at least thought about it! So who IS still SEXTing?
Teenagers: This age group is making headlines with how quickly they’ve taken to this trend! With an abundance of smart phones and cameras filling high school halls and popular hang outs, it’s no surprise that teenagers are hot and heavy in the SEXTing scene. A study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, as well as CosmoGirl magazine, suggests that about 20 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 19 have shared nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves via text messages or by posting them online. This study shows that teen girls are more likely to share their explicit photos than boys; 51% of teen girls who were polled reported that they receive pressure from boys to send these messages.
One of the many sticky situations SEXTing teens can find themselves in revolve around the fact that underage SEXTing is illegal. This falls under creation, distribution and possession of child porn, is a federal offense. While some politicians understand that children will make mistakes and are working to change this, others are actively prosecuting those taking the pictures and those receiving them!
Young Adults: The SEXTing craze doesn’t end with age. In fact, it only increases in popularity. The CosmoGirl study suggests that approximately 33% of people between the ages of 20 and 26 have shared their suggestive photos. A study by USA Today suggests that the number is closer to 59% of young adults who are sharing these via text. The images may also be more explicit than those sent by teenagers, but they are circulated in the same methods: via texts and online posts.
Women: The trend across all age groups, including teenagers, young adults, and mature adults, is that women are more likely than men to send nude photos and sexually explicit texts. Married women are regarded as especially vulnerable to SEXTing affairs; experts think this is because women often feel as though they are being taken for granted by their husbands. Whether they are bored with their sex life, looking for a new source of empowerment, or a new vessel for appreciation, women are definitely involved in this trend.
Men: While studies seem to suggest that women send more SEXT messages, men are just as likely as women to receive these messages. While they may not be as active a participant, men are certainly included in the SEXTing trend. In fact, men may view this as an innocent way to explore their sexuality; if they don’t regard SEXTing as cheating, it may seem like a safe alternative to an affair. As far as adult SEXTing goes, it’s men who seem to be making the news headlines: Remember Anthony Weiner’s Twitter exploits?