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The joy of sexting: Think before you send

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The Sunday Telegraph coined ‘Sexting’ in 1997, the portmanteau of ‘sex’ and ‘texting’, a word that now lies in most of our vocabularies.

As contemporary as the concept seems, we have simply gone high-tech on the old tradition of the naughty love letter or billet-doux, suggestive pouts replacing intriguing sign offs in the notes of lovers of the past.

The technological revolution has brought with it highs and lows, and it appears that the circulation possibility of a sext, and the ease with which one can save one, means that the chance of your kinky photo getting into the wrong hands are more common than you might think, a growing problem for the youth of today – despite the belief of current University students, like third year architect Charles, who claim ‘it’s no big deal, most of my girlfriends have done it!’.

Sex is everywhere, ‘sex sells’ seeming more and more prevalent, littered in our lives from the plethora of Lynx adverts, to the musical Avenue Q with it’s famous ‘The Internet is for Porn’ number. Is it really any surprise that it is on everyone’s mind? From a provocative Bebo image to a home-made sex tape, it seems that it is all too easy to get snap happy with a camera phone, social networking and cheapening mobile charges making it more and more easy to circulate images and video clips. Whilst ‘One Night in Paris’ managed to boost Paris Hilton’s public profile for a while, it is far less likely that ‘post take-away sex on a Friday night’ will get quite the same reception, ‘all publicity is good publicity’ proving less relevant in the University social scene.

Not just common amongst the older generations, sexting is a growing trend among tweenagers, with 90 children in the UK having been cautioned as a result of posting sexual material of either themselves or their friends. As the number of children holding mobile phones increases, inevitably the issue of sexting is on the up. Not related to poor upbringing, or a lack of parental attention, it appears that the middle-classes are suffering the brunt of sexting particularly hard with children being increasingly bought mobile phones and laptops pre-secondary school in order to ‘study’. The childrens’ charity Beatbullying have carried out research on the sexting habits of our youth, and found that more than a third of secondary school children have been sent a message containing sexual content. This is not strictly a British issue, with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy conducting research that found 39% of American teens have sent suggestive messages, and a whopping 48% have received one.

Although sexting is most certainly on the rise, research shows that it does not correlate with a growth in underage sexual activity. The National Survey of Family Growth in the US claims that 25% of those in their late teens to early twenties have never had a sexual encounter. Perhaps those saucy MySpace photos are a bit more innocent than we may have first thought… As casual as a cheeky photo may seem, sending a sext to a boyfriend can have fatal effects. Beth, a second year student from Leeds University, remembers the effects of a sext in the wrong hands at her High School; ‘I couldn’t believe some of the photos… a girl actually transferred schools as a result’. We all know that scandal that can arise, images of Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Anne Hudgens come to mind, so it appears that the Urban dictionary may not have it quite down with it’s definition of sexting claiming ‘pictures may also be included, but only if you’re lucky’. The circulation of such photos has led to a number of problems, both criminal and socially damaging, with the infamous case of 18 year old Jessica Logan from Ohio committing suicide just weeks after a sexual photo of her was sent around her school.

Sexting has quickly gone from a novelty of the MMS, to an issue among the youth of today. With an increasingly sexual spin put upon the use of mobile phones, cut to Gossip Girl’s seductive sign off, it seems that us girls must be wary of suggestive texting, and the social suicide that may ensue. Take heed ladies, the devastating effects of such material in the wrong hands can cause unprecedented damage… xoxo.

 

 

 

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