Latino Teens & The Sexting Epidemic

Texting continues to make the headlines, but unfortunately most of the attention is placed on the growing epidemic of doing it while driving.  More and more, texting has become a centerpiece in teens’ social lives and taking an active role in their sexual activity.  A new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that 4% of cell-owning teens ages 12-17 say they have sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or videos of themselves to someone else via text messaging. Fifteen percent say they have received such images of someone they know via text message.  Sexting has quickly become an epidemic.

“Teens explained how sexually suggestive images have become a form of relationship currency,” said Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist and author of the report. “These images are shared as a part of or instead of sexual activity, or as a way of starting or maintaining a relationship with a significant other. And they are also passed along to friends for their entertainment value, as a joke or for fun.”

Teens are also faced with overwhelming accounts of peer pressure to share sexually suggestive content. One high school girl that has been quoted mentioned: “When I was about 14-15 years old, I received/sent these types of pictures. Boys usually ask for them or start that type of conversation. My boyfriend, or someone I really liked asked for them. And I felt like if I didn’t do it, they wouldn’t continue to talk to me. At the time, it was no big deal. But looking back, it was definitely inappropriate and over the line.”

Another aspect that today’s teens don’t understand is that anything shared electronically lasts forever.  This is a very important point that needs to be emphasized.  Education will be critical.  Teens need to understand the long term implication to near sighted decisions.  More and more people are negatively impacted by their digital footprint.  Teens have been suspended, fired from jobs, charged with child pornography and refused admission at colleges for participating in sexually inappropriate activity online.

The key takeaway here is that in today’s environment, nothing is PRIVATE and has a PERMANENT effect on the rest of their lives.

2 comments

1 Julie!!! { 06.30.11 at 4:09 pm }

Personally, I believe that issues related to sex are bad or forbidden to speak, but everything has its time, and that children play to send photos via cell phone porn is not healthy. In the past, children had a healthier way to have fun.

2 Sergio { 10.02.11 at 5:56 pm }

I think this is wrong because the teensagers think these photos or the personal infromacion that they send will be safe it is not because as the text says, this information is shared and in the future could affect them so thats why the teenagers should think before they decide to do it and think about the consequences of their actions may have

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