Are your teenage children competing in sexting competitions to see who does it best? A new study reports that sexting is spurred on by perceived social pressure from friends, meaning that if one of their friends has come into school with tales of sending sexual images and sexting their partner, they have to do it to; or if their boyfriend is demanding images from them, they feel obliged to comply.
The NSPCC performed a study, which found up to 40 per cent of young people had been involved in sexting, mainly because they felt under pressure from other school children.
Sexting is most common in young girls, some barely past the age of 11. Girls have been known to congregate around their mobile phones, constructing a text to send to one of their male friends or boyfriends. A lot of the time, sexting is merely something done for fun, and to provide a giggle amongst a group. Statistics have also shown that groups of young girls have a tendency to sign onto chat lines and online dating sites, where they send messages to people for an evening of entertainment.
However, there have recently been much more dangerous connotations wrapped up in sexting. It has been proven that parents and teachers have absolutely no influence upon children’s sexting escapades. Teenagers are blissfully ignorant to the negative outcomes of their sexting. This even includes blackmail and harassment.
Some have been shocked to find their pictures on pornographic websites without their permission, and there is little law enforcement can do as the picture was freely given. School teachers have also stated that sexual pictures have been used against girls if a relationship has broken down, in order to blackmail them by threatening to show everyone.
A conference this year held by the Safeguarding Children Board, which brought teachers, social workers and police together, was trying to raise concerns about sexting and find ways to tackle the problem, as it has become an increasingly frequent issue in schools. Girls have often found their pictures spread like wildfire amongst their peers, and it is no longer an innate competition to make their pictures better than their friends and see who does it best.
Experts believe that because the media and video games now contain more vivid sexualized images, this could be to blame. Grand Theft Auto was one of the widespread disturbances, and it was reported that a boy of just seven years of age said that he like playing the because he got to rape people.
Parents are unaware how explicit sexting message have become, and children are no longer sexting in competitions between friends to see who does it best. It has become a real issue, with more and more girls finding out that their pictures can be used in negative ways against them. Teenagers are unaware that not everyone can be trusted and need to be taught about the impacts sexting can have. Especially as they can perceive it as something innocent, or something that everyone does. For example, Miley Cyrus frequently posts half naked pictures of herself for all to see. If her Hannah Montana followers see pictures like this, they are going to want to do it too. Lessons about the damaging effects sexting can have, need to be obligatory.
By Melissa McDonald