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Sexting, is it such an issue?

4th July 2012

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Sexting is the new phenomenon being studied and ultimately condemned by psychologists. In response to an article I read recently, strongly implicating sexting as the cause of teenage promiscuity, I can’t help but wonder whether these professionals are in fact focusing on the wrong issue.

In the recent study sexting is being treated as an epidemic, with the percentage of teens that have sexted someone much higher than initially thought. However they do not take into account other factors in the rise of teenagers having sex at an early age, such as low self-confidence.

I was also astounded to read that scientists have ‘discovered’ a link between sexting and taking drugs before sex. I know that I show very little scientific savvy in asking this but how on earth do they prove that? Considering we are being led to believe that the number of teenagers taking drugs at any time is in itself rising and teenagers are reluctant talk to any adults these days, how can they prove a link between the two?

Once again a study has been conducted to ultimately make us believe teenage behaviour is getting worse, but there is no solution or modern day rationale behind how this can be changed or how teenagers can be made to understand that sex, drugs or alcohol are not to be messed about with.

The study has also shown that girls are more likely to be harassed into sending naked pictures of themselves. However teens are peer pressured daily into doing things they are not comfortable with; this is an unfortunate side-effect of maturing, finding out who you are and what you want to do.

I am not trying to encourage the growth of sexting as a fun new hobby for teens, like sport or music; I am simply suggesting that it is sometimes merely a natural way of teenagers getting to know each other’s bodies. Sexting in one form or another has taken place for a long time; it is only now that professionals have felt the need to comment on it. One reason for this sudden attention is the medium in which modern day sexting takes place and that I would agree could be worrying. In the good old days where teenagers would have a bit of a ‘show and tell’ at a party, whatever happened was forgotten about as soon as they left the room. However these days images on mobile phones and in e-mails can be saved, sent on and ultimately privacy can be abused by the initial recipient. The fact that there is a lasting record of your actions means that what was once a teenage phase is now open to manipulation. This and not the simple fact that it takes place should be the main concern for teenagers and indeed psychologists.

Consequently, I am all in favour of innocent teenage pleasures (being able to look back on mine from not that long ago) and I think that a sext once in a while should not be treated as an endemic issue. The problem, which scientific study does not take into consideration, is the abuse of this ultimately innocent way of getting to know the body and what certain bits look like. Sexting itself is not the problem and whilst there clearly are issues to be looked at, in terms of the way in which teenagers view sexual experiences, I do not think that making every type of sexual exploration seem wrong is the way to address this.

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