Warning: Sexting can be hazardous to your health!

Has it really come to this? That we have to even SAY THIS is a travesty.

In a previous life, I worked in customer service for a paging company (back when dinosaurs roamed the planet) and later transferred over to their cellular division just as cell phones were starting to take off. Some of you may be old enough to remember the term "nights and weekends minutes" when you tried to make your calls in order to save money. Good times.

I remember when they first started putting cameras on phones. Frankly, I couldn't imagine WHY anyone would have the need to carry a camera around 24/7, but that just goes to show my own lack of imagination.

I hope whoever came up with that idea spends an eternity roasting in hell.

As reported in the New York Times, a new study shows that 2/3 of girls between the ages of 12-18 have been asked to send nude photographs of themselves. If that surprises you, you clearly have not been paying attention. On the other hand - WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE TODAY????? The least surprising statistic is that boys are 4 times more likely to ask girls to send them naked pictures than the other way around. (I know. Shocker.) The Times has a number of suggestions, including parents discussing the problem with teens, telling them not to send OR request these photos, warning them of the potential legal consequences, etc. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/well/family/teenagers-stop-asking-for-nude-photos.html?action=click&contentCollection=family&contentPlacement=1&emc=edit\_ml\_20180104&module=package&nl=well-family&nlid=56954879&pgtype=sectionfront&region=rank&rre

Yes, all very good suggestions. If you have teenagers, you should definitely talk to them about this issue. If you have boys, please tell them that it is not nice to ask young ladies for nude photographs (and for good measure, tell them that they could be prosecuted for child pornography, go to jail and end up on the sex offenders registry for life.

But come on! Do you really need me or the New York Times or anybody else to TELL YOU THIS? How have we come to this as a society where that even has to be said?

Maybe I'm just old. When I was a teen, my parents forced me to use the kitchen phone (even if it meant stepping over me for an hour) to talk to my friends. My father refused to allow me a phone, TV or stereo in my room because "we'd never see you again until it was time for you to leave for college." I can't even imagine what he'd think if he had lived long enough to see teens walking around with cell phones.

Feminists are naturally concerned that parents are putting more burden on teen girls to avoid sexting than they are boys. Which is just stupid. Of course parents are more worried about girls sending nude photos because (as the study shows) girls are the ones being asked to SEND nude photos. And more importantly, girls are the ones bearing the brunt of the consequences. According to this study: "None of the young women who complied with sending photographs reported relief or benefit from sending their photographs. For some women, compliance led to self-doubt or further fear about what might happen in the future. Additionally, while many young women attempted to use compliance to fend off further consequences such as a lost relationship or ruined reputation, sending photographs often exacerbated problems by providing further ammunition to young men or resulting in the consequence they were attempting to avoid." All of which is just a fancy way of saying "No girl that sent a nude photo of herself to a boy ended up happy with that decision."

There are dozens of stories of young women driven to suicide after nude photographs of them were circulated around their school. Many others have dropped out, been forced to transfer, and generally had their young lives ruined as a result.

And that doesn't even touch on the scariest aspect of this: nude photos have been used to blackmail young girls into becoming victims of sex trafficking. There are gangs actively recruiting girls of middle-school age into this scheme. What better way than to threaten "I'll show your parents this naked picture of you if you don't do what I say."

So yes, PLEASE have this conversation with your teens. Check their phones. Have their photos uploaded to a shared cloud. Warn them about all the bad things that can happen from sexting.

And may God have mercy on us all for creating a society where this even has to be said.

When it comes to teens, I fully agree with you, though I think that this is an area where our laws need to catch up with technology. As you mentioned, teens can be prosecuted for child porn for possessing photos of each other. I think that our laws at the very least need to add some sort of 1st offense "get off with a warning" exception for cases where photos are only shared with boyfriend/girlfriend who doesn't share them with anyone else, especially in cases when the persons in question would face no legal ramifications for physical sexual activity with each other.

When it comes to adults though, I think there are times when the benefit outweighs the risk. Especially within a marriage, I think that sexting can be a very good thing. As pointed out by Krystle Schoonveld in a piece at the Federalist a few years ago, there are some great benefits to using technology to remain connected with your spouse. But even within a marriage there are some risks to sharing, but they can be mitigated by being appropriately cautious. As I commented on Krystle's article:

"I would suggest being careful about what or at least how you are sending sexts, especially pictures and video. Specifically I wouldn't send anything unencrypted that would cause you more than slight embarrassment if it were to become public. There are several ways to encrypt messages that are being sent and also to lock/encrypt content that you have saved on your phone including multiple free apps. If you aren't absolutely sure that the messages you're sending are secure, then try to keep it PG-13. Also keep in mind that sometimes less is more, that sometimes a picture that hints at what you can't see is just as or even more alluring than a picture that shows everything"

&

"Your sexuality is a beautiful gift that God has given you to share with your spouse. Just don't forget to take the necessary steps to make sure it is shared only with your spouse."

Keep in mind that this advice is meant for people in a committed relationship (I would suggest married or in the case of images/video that is a little less revealing engaged and getting married very soon) with someone they can trust not to share photos and video. Also remember that technology changes and what was once a secure method for communicating or storing data may no longer be the case. For example, I once would have recommended Skype as a convenient way to have a secure and private video call with a spouse, but would no longer do so because they have allowed at least some governments a backdoor into their programing and the encryption software I first used on my computer, TrueCrypt, is no longer maintained.

There is NO good reason AT ALL for ANYONE to be sending nude or other compromising photos or other materials. Ever. ANYTHING you text, post, email, etc., must pass this test: Would I mind seeing this on a billboard on Main Street? If not... Just Say No.

Anything sent or posted should pass the grandma test: would you be embarrassed if grandma saw this?

As a grandfather, I think there should be an app, an automatic disclaimer that kicks in. "If I do send you a photo of me, it pretty much guarantees that my grandfather will show up at your residence with his old Louisville Slugger, and he will be swinging for the fences!" :)

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I'm shocked boys are only 4 times more likely to ask. I figured it would be at least 10 times.

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@AlexWilson- Are you SERIOUS???

"When it comes to adults though, I think there are times when the benefit outweighs the risk."

Are you suggesting that marriages today are actually BETTER than they were a generation or two previously because we can send nude pictures to our spouses? Whatever happened to 'cat and mouse' 'playing hard to get' and the like, when it was the chase and the curiosity that created a sense of mystique and foreplay?

While I LOVE to see my wife nude, I sure don't need her engaging in risky behavior, not knowing who could pick up my phone or see a preview of a picture unintentionally. I don't know about you, but I don't only use my phone when I'm alone in the bathroom. My wife would FREAK if she thought someone else had seen a nude picture of her. That's an image that is reserved for my mind alone, but sending pictures back and forth creates risks that once revealed, can't be 'undone'.

FWIW, just as photos on cell phones were becoming popular (shortly after the introduction of the iPhone), someone at our church sent a picture (that was fortunately blurred in the right places) to our senior pastor (i.e.- my boss at the time). Someone had found a picture online (how there "discovered" it I'll never know) that was clearly the wife of one of our longtime attenders. As the guy responsible for our network at the time, the senior pastor called me into his office so that we could try to figure out what to do. We had to talk to the guy to make sure that he knew this had happened. Turns out that someone got his phone and sent the picture to someone who must have subsequently posted it online.

The wife stopped coming to church after that. I'm sure it was related. I'm not sure that the "risk" outweighed the benefit in that case.

You had good parents. I did, too. My first cell phone was a Motorola bag phone. I missed the brick phone, I don't know how. Parents are more into accessing their kids with a device that can get them into more trouble than they are worth, if the kids are not supervised, and that is next to impossible. The answer is more parenting. Nothing else can fix this one.

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