Sharing intimate photos and videos is one of the ways we build strong relationships with friends and lovers, an obvious part of adolescence.
However, teens should know that any private message, picture, or video sent online can be shared with the entire school, not to mention the rest of the world. The reality is that privacy in trusted relationships is being abused by the temptations and limitations of technology.
Many reasons are leading to sexting behavior, but among them, the abuse of social networks or inappropriate access to social networks is one of the causes leading to a high risk of sexting behavior. In this section, we will go into detail about the relationship between Social media and sexting – How do they relate?
What is sexting?
Sexting is the sending, receiving, or forwarding of pornography or pornographic messages via text message or email. Although the term “sext” appeared more than ten years ago, the concept of exchanging or storing sexually related images or messages is not new.
Then, as the internet came into being, electronic devices and social media became tools to simplify and spread sexual materials easier and more powerful than ever. With just one click, a photo can be widely distributed to many others. And once this content has been spread, it will remain forever on the Internet, there is no way to permanently delete it. But unfortunately, few teens acknowledge this.
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Social media and sexting – How do they relate?
More and more children are using social media
Children’s time using electronic devices has doubled in May (2021) compared to the same period the previous year. Besides, the current average age for children to get their first phone is 10.3 years old and almost half (46%) of 12-16-year-olds feel they are addicted to smartphones.
Proportional to the time spent on the phone, the amount of time children spend on social networks is constantly increasing. Teenagers now spend up to 9 hours a day on social platforms and that continues to grow dramatically. A study conducted by Common Sense Media found that among 13-17-year-olds in the US:
Teenagers choose Snapchat (41%) as their main social networking site, followed by Instagram (22%) and Facebook (15%), up to 89% have a smartphone and 70% of teenagers use social media many times per day.
95% of teenagers now say they have a smartphone or have access to a smartphone. Sadly, nearly half of these claims that they are online almost constantly.
And teen sexting behavior is also increasing
Nearly 40% of children received and/or sent “sext” by the age of 13. Additionally, a survey of nearly 4,000 children between the ages of 8 and 13 found:
- 43% are talking to strangers online, with a third of them talking to strangers every day or at least once a week.
- A higher proportion of boys than girls, including 36% of 8-year-old boys and 43% of 10-year-old boys, are playing 18+ games and are exposed to violent and inappropriate sexual content with their age.
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In regards to sexting – sending and receiving sexually explicit messages, a study of 110,000 teenagers from around the world now shows:
- On average 1 in 7 teenagers are sending sexual texts.
- 1 in 4 teenagers is receiving sexual texts.
- More than 1 in 10 teens are forwarding these sexually explicit messages without their consent.
- About 1 out of 12 teenagers shared that the sexual messages they had sent were shared with others without their permission.
Why teens sext?
The anterior cortex isn’t fully developed
Teens are often impulsive because their anterior cortex, which plays an important role in controlling temperament and personality, is not yet fully developed. At this age, adolescents face fluctuating hormone levels, changes in emotions and sexual feelings that make them not mature enough to manage these issues safely or wisely.
Immature leads to wrong actions, wrong actions leave devastatingly negative effects on your child.
Curiosity & Peer pressure
Sex creates curiosity which leads to the desire for exploration and experimentation – especially with teenagers. This is not a new thing and it is completely normal. They may be curious about what a naked person looks like and are also easily aroused by nudity.
Peer pressure is also a factor. When they see their friends engaging in sexting, they would feel they are not “enough” when not sending out nude pictures of themselves.
If you’re a guy and your friends both have erotic pictures of girls on their phones, you might feel pressured to do the same.
On the other hand, if you’re a girl and other girls are bragging about sending a nude photo to their boyfriend, you may feel you need to do so; especially if you feel like “everyone else is doing it.”
Relationship & self-esteem
Oftentimes, teen self nudes are sent because they hope they can start a new relationship or receive positive comments about their body, satisfying their self-esteem. Sometimes, they are pressured by friends that they will not cool enough to them if not sexting like them.
The frequent use of technology devices and the lack of knowledge about the law have escalated the phenomenon of teen sexting. They think that indirect communication via phone or Internet devices will be less risky and easier than directly interacting.
But importantly, a lot of teenagers think the consequences are not so bad and if they are, they will be an exception and nothing bad will happen to them.
Early exposure to pornography
This is a huge factor. When in a gender-curious age, even when your kids accidentally see any pornographic image, they become particularly curious and aroused by nudity. When they keep searching for things about nudity, sex, and everything related, their curiosity gets bigger and bigger. Finally, sexting will be one of those things that they think they would try to satisfy their needs.
That’s why many parents are now using porn blocking software that uses AI to detect any pornographic images/videos/ads on the Internet, including Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. can help you reduce your risk of exposure to pornography. Besides pornography, this software also filters:
- Horrifying content like accidents, gore, murder, violence, etc.
- Drug/Alcohol content which is about stimulants and drugs, weapons, medicines, etc.
- Hate Speech
A lot of parents choose a content filtering tool because it’s effective, free, and easy to download as a browser add-on.
How do I know if my my teen is sexting?
We love to give you more information about that. You can find out more the article about signs of teen sexting and how to talk with your teen about sexting effectively.
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