Sexting is probably the latest way of flirting, especially among teens. According to social scientists, we’re seeing the rise of a “hookup culture,” wherein people may indulge in promiscuous behavior without dating and without any intention of forming a relationship. When people send sexually suggestive or sexually explicit content to each other through social media or mobile phones, the phenomenon is known as sexting.
Research on sexting behavior
In 2013, a study was conducted on the sexting behavior of undergraduate students in order to determine, among several things, the effect of demographics on sexting behaviors and expectancies. Results showed that males had stronger positive expectancies about receiving sexts, whereas females had stronger negative expectancies about the same thing. It is conjectured that the reason for this difference by gender is because of the double standards of society. Promiscuous men can get away with much more than promiscuous women.
Sexting among teens
The dangers of sexting are not quite understood by the demographic that indulges in this activity the most–teens. Once a picture, text message, or a video reaches the Internet, there is no way to recall it. It remains in cyberspace, even if it is deleted on the platform on which it was posted. Risque messages, nude pictures, racy pictures–all of these have the potential to ruin a teenager’s future.
College authorities and later, employers, have taken to looking up a potential candidate’s social media profiles in order to determine whether the person is trustworthy, mature, dependable, and respectable. You can imagine what sort of an impression sexually suggestive material, no matter how vague, will have on such people.
Apart from that, the risk of such content being misused is immense. A bitter breakup can lead to either partner seeking revenge by leaking private pictures or videos in the public domain. The loss of face and respectability have even led many teens to take extreme steps like committing suicide.
This brings us to the question: why do teens still sext?
The teenage years are the time when one is seeking approval from one’s peer group. To be a misfit is a teen’s worst nightmare. So, many teens feel pressured into sexting because they want to be liked by the person who is asking them to send such content.
Influence of celebrities
Teens watch the antics of celebrities who “leak” inappropriate images and videos of themselves. They see that instead of undermining their careers, such activities enhance their popularity. So, teens think it is “cool” to behave inappropriately.
Means of hooking up
The culture of hooking up has meant that teens who simply want some action don’t have to bother dating. Sexting has replaced dating as a means of grabbing the attention of the opposite sex. This sort of behavior is also seen in young adults, who are delaying marriage in a bid to become successful at their careers.
What can parents do?
If being a parent of young kids is tough, wait till your child grows into a teenager! Parents need to keep all lines of communication open with their adolescent children and monitor their activity on the Web.
It is important to counsel them about the implications of inappropriate behavior online. The fact that what is posted online in the heat of the moment becomes permanent and it cannot be taken back should be explained.
If you need help with tackling the texting behavior of your teenager, you can ask for help at AskMile anonymously.