Shocking: Teens Talk Sex Online

from the well-what-do-you-know? dept

Forty percent of US teens have sent sexually suggestive electronic messages, a new study says, adding that one in five have sent "nude or partially clothed images of themselves" via email or mobile phone -- fulfilling Mike's earlier prediction, following an overblown report about kids getting naked on cameraphones, that we'd soon be warned about this widespread phenomenon. Let's ignore, for a moment, the fact that this was an online survey, so drawing conclusions about how all teens behave from it seems a little shaky -- but hey, it makes a good headline, right? We'll also suspend our disbelief that teens -- who are likely communicating in similar ways, about similar things, offline -- would do this sort of stuff.

As with so many of these reports about kids' online behavior, any sort of positive takeaway here gets buried. In this case, about 80 percent of those surveyed realize that sending these messages or photos online could cause regret later or embarrassment, and three-quarters of them say it can have serious consequences, illustrating that they have a decent understanding of the ramifications of their actions. Doesn't that paint a little more positive picture of teens, that they aren't just leaping blindly into some morass of sketchy behavior and putting themselves at risk? This parallels earlier reports that have found teens do a decent job of looking out for themselves online. It just makes you wonder if maybe giving teens a little more credit and going from there, rather than trying to paint pictures that scare parents and politicians into action, might be a more effective way to protect teens from all these supposed online problems.

Filed Under: kids, sex, studies

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  1. identicon
    JO, 15 Dec 2008 @ 9:03am

    Re: Ummm...

    Thank you! The fact that teen pregnancy is far lower now then it was before the proliferation of the cell phone/digital camera and the Internet is often left out of the debate.

    "Between 2005 and 2006, the birth rate for girls 15 to 19 rose 3 percent, from 40.5 births per 1,000 in 2005 to 41.9 births per 1,000 in 2006. This comes after 14 years of declining rates. During that time, teen births dropped 34 percent from a peak of 61.8 births per 1,000 in 1991, according to the report."

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