Sexting Scandals, Slut Pages, Nudes: What Teens Face Today

Latest research explains how young people engage in digital sexual content.

Posted Feb 28, 2018

Pexel
Source: Pexel

There's no denying it, sex is no longer limited to physical contact thanks to technology, sexting has become a new normal for many.

Sexting might be considered the new form of flirting, but that doesn’t mean a sext isn’t going to get you in trouble if your recipient decides to use it for unsavory purposes.

In a recent report in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, sexting is becoming more common among young people. According to this study, nearly 15 percent of teens have sent a sext message while 27 percent have received one.

This research also shared that older teens are more likely to engage in sexting and about 8 percent had their private sexual content forwarded without their consent. 

Last fall, YouGov Omibus survey reported that 78 percent of millennial women received unwanted sexual images.

Nudes and slut pages

Everything is permanent online. If someone asks you for a nude, no matter what age you are, be prepared for the potential consequences.

Just because it’s frequently done doesn’t mean it won’t land you in serious digital consequences. Slut pages aren’t only a child’s playground. In 2017, it was exposed that some U.S. Marines were involved in creating social media pages full of non-consensual shared nudes of their colleagues.

Sexting isn’t just common among swinging singles and digital natives. One study in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that 12 percent of married couples admitted to sending nude or nearly nude photos to each other. However, with the divorce rate of first marriages at forty percent and of second marriages at sixty percent, the impulse to get even with your spouse has taken a new, evil turn.

Another study found that 4 percent of online Americans, or 10 million men and women, reported either being threatened with revenge porn or actually victimized. If you’re considering taking or sending a nude, make sure you are aware of the risks and ready to deal with the potential consequences. What could the impact be on your future relationships? Employment? Career?

If adults are behaving this way and they're supposed to be the role-models, what example does this give our children?

Sexting scandals

Statistics show that 20 percent of teens and 33 percent of young adults have posted or sent nude or semi-nude photos, which can be a pathway to an embarrassing ending—witness the sexting scandals that have popped up in small towns across America, from Duxbury, Massachusetts, to Cañon City, Colorado.

The adults aren't immune to these headlines. Who can forget the compulsive sexting scandals that destroyed the life and career of former U.S. representative Anthony Weiner? After his first risqué sext was exposed, Weiner was forced to resign his seat in Congress. A second offense was disclosed during his failed 2013 bid for the New York City mayor’s office.

The final straw (for his wife, at least) came when he sexted a photo while lying next to his young son, leaving his marriage in limbo. But an inappropriate photo allegedly sent to a fifteen-year-old girl may be his ultimate downfall, landing him in criminal trouble. What might have happened if Weiner had been content with an old-school stack of Penthouse magazines instead?

Risks and consequences

There are sexting laws across the country depending on what state you reside in. It's important not only for you to understand these laws, but to have frequent discussions with your children about them. Start these chats early, in the JAMA report it points to sexting starting in the tween years.

Revenge porn  and sextortion is no joke. What may have started out as sending flirtatious messages, could end in malicious e-venge. With sextortion, you may not even know the person. To date, 38 states plus D.C. have revenge porn laws. If you become a victim, tell someone immediately. Cyber Civil Rights Initiative offers a free Online Removal Guide

Is there such thing as safe sexting? 

Know that everything you put out there has the possibility of becoming “Public and Permanent®,” an expression perfectly coined by Richard Guerry, founder of the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication. “Far too many people with technology are not stopping to think about the long-term repercussions of their actions,” he says. Guerry advocates for digital consciousness—always posting with the awareness that anything you’ve documented could be disseminated.

“There is no way to control what is going to happen, none,” he says. “Digital tools were never designed for privacy. We’re going against the grain for what these tools were intended. By no means is everything going to be Public and Permanent®, but you have to be prepared. Think about your legacy. It’s not just imagining [that] your ninety-year-old grandma will see your naughty text—but [that] your own grandkids will too.”

Even with the strictest privacy settings, we don’t have control over human behavior, technology glitches, or cyber-criminals. Maybe your husband leaves his phone behind on the train or it gets picked up in the locker room. Maybe your friend forwards your sext to a friend.

Are you a victim of sexting gone wrong?

Organizations that can help you:

Cyber Civil Rights Initiative
Without My Consent
SOS Online Network
DMCA Protection and Takedown Services

References