There's another take on sex and technology that's not so literary, and not nearly as amusing. Last year the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy did a survey (in conjunction with CosmoGirl.com) asking nearly 1300 young people about their electronic activities. According to the survey, 1 in 5 girls (11% between the ages of 13 and 16) and 18% of boys have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves. Further, 15% of senders forwarded the photos on to people they didn't know, or had met online. 39% of these kids admit to writing sexy emails and text messages. (Facts taken from an article by Judith Newman, www.readersdigest.com)
The kids have dubbed these kind of messages 'sexting', and in many cases apparently see nothing wrong with it. Some of these kids are as young as 10 or 11. Unfortunately, children don't have the mental capacity to think long range. On the internet, pictures never really go away. These photos and videos could resurface weeks, months or years from now, and may even be linked to the model's name. Potential employers don't like the pics you posted on MySpace? Wait 'til they get a load of these. My, you were adventurous when you were 11.
Two cases in the news recently have shown that these activities might have other, long-tem effects. Some of the kids charged with these crimes might actually have to register as a sex offender! Probably not what the creators of the sex offender laws had in mind, but hey. You breaks the law, you pays the price.
Here are the news items, complete with links in case you think I made this stuff up:
(Newser) – Pennsylvania teens are in trouble over child-porn photos—of themselves. Three girls who took the pictures, and three boys who got them via cell phone, have been charged, Pittsburgh’s WPXI-TV reports. A student was caught with one of the phones in school in October, prompting a police investigation. But the charges violate the spirit of state child-pornography laws, says an attorney.Police were hoping to make a point about the danger of such photo-sharing, MSNBC adds. “That cell phone can be put on the Internet where everyone in the world can get access,” said an officer. While the kids may not serve prison terms if convicted, they might have to register as sex offenders for a decade, the lawyer notes.
(Newser) – A 14-year-old New Jersey girl has been charged with possessing and distributing child porn for posting nude photos of herself on her MySpace web pages, reports WPIX-TV. If convicted, the girl may have to register as a sex offender. The case highlights increasing problems with children posting or texting racy images of themselves. "This is a wake-up call for parents," said an official. "The girl posted the photos because she wanted her boyfriend to see them."
When I read about stuff like this, I'm really glad my kids are grown. They had the internet to cause trouble with while growing up, but no cell phones until they were driving on their own, so they could reach us in case of emergency. 'Sexting' hadn't been created then. Or I should say, it hadn't been labeled then. It probably began as soon as texting became the norm.
Personally, when I wanted to get in trouble as a kid, I went to the library and looked for dirty books. They were there, you just had to dig for them. (As an aside to this story, and sort of an update, on Feb. 23 I posted here at the Grip about a local library that had removed four 'questionable' books from the shelves: The Joy of Sex, The Joy of Gay Sex, The Lesbian Kama Sutra and Sex for Busy People. After they made this ruling, the library board never quite figured out what to do, so they tossed the idea around for a couple more months. Last week, they rescinded the vote and are allowing the books to stay on the shelves. They're going to put up a sign at the entrance stating the library contains some books with adult material, just so people know.) Damn! My secret is out. I might have some company trolling up and down the aisles, looking for dirty books.