Problems plaguing parents and teachers of teens are quite different from the ones that I remember from my own high school experience — namely, their teens are sexting. While I was chatting on AIM and ICQ (age/sex/location, anyone?) and choosing ringtones for my Nokia, teens these days think nothing of sending sexy messages to each other via Snapchat and new apps like Cyber Dust, VaporChat, Wickr, Confide and Frankly, just to name a few.
The most obvious problem with teen sexting is that it’s illegal, if photos are involved. As an aside, it never would have crossed my mind to send a naked selfie when I was 17, and I was a wild child. That said, it's a different time, and I suppose my generation (what what, millennials) and our wild sexting are to blame, so — sorry, all.
Although teens are tech-savvy enough to often use fancy apps that enable messages and photos to self-destruct within seconds, perhaps some of them haven’t done their research: It’s widely known that data sent via Snapchat is actually retrievable, which probably means the same is true for all of these other “ephemeral” services. Somewhere, in the depths of the internet, lurk all of my silly and sometimes naked Snapchat selfies.
According to a story in TES Connect, a British educational resource, a new report urges teachers in the U.K. to educate students that under-18 sexting and revenge porn are crimes. It seems pretty obvious to me that revenge porn would be illegal, but I suppose that’s another story. The report suggests that high school instructors caution kids against firing off sexy photos to one another, much less engaging in cyber-bullying or stealing someone’s identity.
It also asks that teachers remind students in a nonjudgmental manner that their behavior today could affect their careers in the future. Actually, this is terrifying — I’m so glad that I can’t be held responsible now for any of the weird things I said in high school.
This is a hot button issue right now — when it came out that it’s actually semi-legal for teens to sext in Florida, thanks to a legislative loophole, many opinions surfaced in relation to whether teen sexting should be legal or not. And there was a long article in The Atlantic a few months ago investigating why teens text.
All of that aside, whether it’s a good idea or not, teens absolutely do sext, and I’d wager that no number of laws against it will make much of a difference in teen sext frequency. As for me, I’ll be happily sexting away via old-fashioned iMessage, with a Snapchat or two thrown in the mix to keep things spicy. I can’t — and don’t want to — imagine how teen sexts differ from my own, but one thing is for sure: I probably won’t be Cyber Dusting any time soon.