In today’s world of electronic gadgetry many things have changed, including growing up. Teenagers, with a cell phone close at hand, are finding new ways to explore their growing pains. Welcome to sexting, the latest fad in “getting to know” members of the opposite sex. Getting to first base is only a few keystrokes away.
But what makes sexting so tempting is the camera attached to each cell phone. In a world where “sefies” dominate the airways, getting to know one another has taken on a whole new meaning. The days of awkward dating have been replaced by a risqué exchange of self-portraits.
Parents do not be alarmed, yet. A University of Texas study has shown that sexting is the new teenage norm and it is all part of growing up. While there is, according to the study, no link between sexting and “other risky sexual behavior,” those who partake in the practice are, nevertheless, more likely to be sexually active within a year.
Since sexting is the apparent new first base, it stands to reason that second and third are at risk should a real date ever take place. A “home run” is well within the realm of possibility as well. For those that are actively sexting, a certain guideline of “invisibility” has been established.
Hide your face and privates: In today’s world of rapid communications, it becomes increasingly important to hide one’s identity. All it takes is the click of a key to distribute an image worldwide.
Don’t sext while drinking: Drinking has a way of filtering inhibitions and for people to become more brazen. It is a time when the feeling of invulnerability masks the vulnerability of a situation.
Do not sext at work: While this should be self-explanatory, studies have shown that most sexting occurs during working hours. Not only do employers frown on the practice, but it could also permanently damage your reputation or livelihood.
Delete the image’s EXIF metadata: Cameras automatically stamp each photo with information that could include personal, identifiable details that can be easily deciphered. Covering oneself with a towel may not be good enough.
Delete the evidence: For those people who are sexting, deleting the images from your device can be beneficial. No one wants another person to accidentally find racy images. For teenagers this becomes even more critical when inquisitive or suspecting parents are involved.
Sext over a secure device: With today’s connectivity between devices, one must remember that sending from one device could copy images to other devices. This is true if several devices are connected through a “cloud” application like iCloud or Dropbox.
Make sure you have a trusting partner: Everyone has heard, “I promise I won’t tell anyone,” only to find that they have been duped. Before pushing the “send” button, reaffirm that the recipient is trustworthy.
That covers first base. For those who feel comfortable in partaking of the practice, remember that sexting is only laying the groundwork for what is to come. By exposing oneself visually, a distinct message is being sent to the recipient. While that sexting message’s intent may be innocent enough, the interpretation by the recipient may be altogether different. This may be especially true for teenagers whose bodies are undergoing the metamorphosis to adulthood.
By Hans Benes
Image courtesy of Pro Juventute – License