The phenomenon of sexting teens shows that society faces an uphill battle in gaining control over kids’ use of screens, and the fact that teens as young as 13 and even preteens engage in sexting proves technology’s drawbacks. Sexting is just one symptom of a disease that is the unrestrained use of gadgets, which is proven by studies to cause low self-esteem, depression, bullying, anxiety, lack of empathy and a host of additional problems.
Sexting is particularly dangerous. In a paper out of the University of Connecticut entitled Cyberbullying and Sexting: Technology Abuses of the 21st Century, Dr. Del Siegle points to the case of a young Ohio girl who ended up taking her own life after naked pictures she had sent to her boyfriend ended up being distributed to a large group of people. Her boyfriend had been the first person to violate her trust.
According to studies on sexting, teens who participate in this behavior are not able to comprehend the ramifications of their actions, and are incapable of understanding that sexting is wrong. Enormous amounts of teens engage in sexting; studies have shown that anywhere between 22 to 28 percent of teens participate.
What’s more, new research has emerged that proves teens who sext are more likely to engage in real life sexual encounters including oral sex and intercourse. Teens who sext, in addition to being unable to understand the consequences of their actions, seem to be completely ignorant of the fact that their actions are illegal in many U.S. jurisdictions and that they could face criminal charges for promoting underage pornography.
Sexting teens prove technology’s drawbacks, and the incidence of this behavior is on the rise, according to studies. The technology which is used for this illegal and many would say, immoral, activity is partly to blame, and overlooking its effects on children’s brain development is part of the problem, some experts say. The unrestrained use of screens can potentially cause brain damage in children under age two, and overuse of the internet causes measurable brain damage in teenagers, according to a study out of China entitled Abnormal White Matter Integrity in Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder: A Tract-Based Spatial Statistics Study. In this study, researchers found that internet-addicted teens actually suffered reduced brain function and a reduction in brain tissue.
To discount the negative neurological effects of gadget and screen overuse is to ignore the catalyst of the sexting problem, some mental health professionals advise. Gadgets such as cell phones make sharing picture with thousands or even millions of people possible in an instant. Putting a machine such as this in a teen’s hands with no supervision has undoubtedly contributed to the growing problem of teen sexting.
According to an article by Raychelle Lohmann, M.S., giving teens unlimited, unmonitored access to screens is downright dangerous:
With more and more teens having internet capability we (meaning parents, schools, community members, etc.,) need to be more vigilant in uncovering and educating our youth about the hidden dangers of the internet. Needless to say, sexting is definitely one of those dangers.
Technology makes it easier to engage in inappropriate sexual behavior and bullying than ever before. Many mental health and medical professionals feel that more attention needs to be paid to how much teenagers are using the gadgets themselves, and that stricter controls should be placed on teens who use screens in their daily lives. Sexting teens prove technology’s drawbacks, but until adults take charge of teens’ screen use, studies will most likely continue to show an increase in sexting as well as cyber bullying and other negative behaviors.
By: Rebecca Savastio