How common is sexting amongst teenagers? This is what they have to say.

By definition, sexting is the distribution of a sexually explicit image or video of oneself to another user, or receipt of the same, via information communication technology. Basically, sending a nude picture of yourself to someone else over the internet.

Either through our own imagination, the media or what we hear from others, we form an opinion as to how prevalent this practice is amongst our youth. As a father of teenagers, it’s a real concern as to how sexting would affect our family should my children became involved. These concerns take new heights when I hear a teenager say, “everybody does it, it’s just what you do these days.” Is it really?

This year I was given the opportunity to speak at a one-day conference being hosted by the organisation Generation Next, at Bond University on the Gold Coast, Australia. My audiences were 200 male and female students, aged 15-18 years old, as well as approximately 2000 students taking part via live video feed. I engaged them in a 45-minute presentation, titled ‘Sexting – Not So Virtual,’ covering the definition of sexting, legal considerations, personal and social considerations, why people do it, what they achieve, as well as real-world analogies.

For me, a unique part of my presentation involved a live survey where students could answer questions via their mobile phones while the results were tallied in real-time on the screen above. We had 5 polls and 2 open-ended questions relating to the topic of Sexting where students were challenged to consider their answers on a personal level. Here’s what actual teenagers have to tell us about Sexting.

Poll1Chart Poll2Chart Poll3Chart Poll4Chart Poll5Chart

*** These results were provided by actual teenagers in a relatively private and anonymous environment without noticeable peer influence. As with any poll or survey, there are factors that can affect the outcome, therefore our results should be used as a guide for consideration only.

Prior to this, I had never been involved in a live voting scenario presentation, and to be honest, I was quite nervous and uncertain as to the unfolding results however they are positively definitive. I was speechless to see that ninety percent of participants indicated they would never send a naked image of themselves or were undecided – highlighting that the issue is NOT out of control. Yes, there will be those who make bad choices online, but we have the ability to reduce that number through education and empowering those who are already making good choices.

My presentation was not to challenge an individual’s moralistic or ethical code or to profess what is best or right or wrong, yet to encourage thought, to consider this topic from a different perspective, and to take into account potential consequences.

For further information relating to the topic of sexting, read my article here.

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