You cannot blame the technology – technology was created to help people communicate better, to improve lifestyles, in short, technology is progress. But everything in life is dual, isn’t it? Where there’s a plus, there must be a minus, the eternal yin yang forces, both interconnected and interdependent, are at work, not only in the natural world, but in virtual worlds as well. So what happens when technology is used for the wrong purpose? And even more, what happens when minors are the ones misusing it?
This is the scenario: you give your teens a mobile device, and when you do, you don’t even suspect that, in fact, you just offered them a dangerous instrument, that can even lead to prosecution. And this can happen in a number of ways, in discussion today however is sexting – defined as the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between mobile phones.
The dangers of sexting and cyber bullying in general are not thought by teachers in schools, at least not as a general rule. This should be probably included in the sexual education curriculum, but sexting is a relatively new trend (first reported in 2005). Unfortunately, recent news show that sexting is a trend on the rise. The Boston Globe reports that police are investigating reports that dozens of students at Chenery Middle School used their phones to circulate a nude photo of an adolescent girl.
In the US, in 2008, 20% of teenagers nationwide reported having sent or posted nude photos of themselves online or via phone. You can only imagine the numbers two years later, with the boom of social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. Besides, teenager behavior is highly influenced by the media, and particularly by the celebrities they look up to. If your teen is an Ashton Kutcher fan then posting nude or seminude images online is “cool” – after all, the man is not shy to post images of Demi Moore and share them with a network of millions.
To make things even worse, even teachers cannot resist temptation, using their mobile devices for sexting to minors. This is the case of 41 year old Melinda Dennehy, English teacher at Londonderry High School, who reportedly sent 4 nude photos of herself to a 15 year old and continued texting erotic messages.
There’s not much parents can do to prevent such occurrences, other than educating their children on the dangers of using their mobile phones for questionable activities.