Sexting has become part of the adolescence list. Besides drugs, alcohol, sex, and many others, sexting is now a concern for youths. Due to cell phone technologies growing exponentially, the device enables teens, and even younger, an easy way to share images. In class we have discussed the negative effects of sexting and the proper legal actions that should be used.
According to a poll, conducted by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, many adults believe that the solution should be noncriminal. 81 percent of the people polled thought that an educational program would be most beneficial. Our class also came to a consensus that the parents should play a major role, but the schools should as well in educating kids and teens. 75 percent believe in community service, 44 percent believe in fines, and less than 20 percent believe that it should be treated as a sex crime.
In class we have discussed about youth’s violation of self-expression; that sexting is another way of showing who you are. In “Sexting as Media Production: re-thinking social media,” Amy Hasinoff discusses the necessity for lawmakers and parents to understand that sexting can also be seen as a media production. She write s that sexting is being misrepresented by the media. I don’t believe there is any appropriate young age for any teen to share images of themselves that are naked or even scantily clad. Like drinking it should be a law that you cannot do so unless you are over 21 years. Although, it may provoke students to do otherwise, many recent news articles have come to an agreement that sexting only happens among a small number of kids anyways.
Someone in class also brought up the point that sexting is usually girls instead of boys and that there is an unfair disadvantage to girls. I strongly agree with this point because sexting reinforces gender stereotypes. Sexting can be academically studied and approached as: why do young girls need to subject themselves to provocative images in order to prove to others that they are beautiful or popular, etc? It almost makes girls think that sexting is what they have to do, not that it is their choice. Young girls interpret sexting as a role, that this is what older women (like celebrities) do to be defined as beautiful. The boys that instigate sexting also play into gender stereotypes because it is the number of images that you can get from a variety of girls to show how manly you are. The guy is then in control and he has the power, because he has the ownership of images that could be leaked to the public. Hasinoff’s addresses these issues in a positive way by saying that young girls are making these choices in “complex social and media contexts they do not control.” She goes on by saying that it is ok for girls’ sexual media practices to be leverage against mass media. I cannot agree with Hasinoff that using sexually charged images of young girls will help mediate the representations of youth and femininity in the media, as well as society. Publicizing and objectifying a young woman’s body is not a solution to sexting or feminine stereotypes.
The technologies we discussed in class, like EyeGuardian, do help parents curb their kids’ behavior but ruins the trust relationship. Although the law seems to be too cruel for young children, I think it is important to categorize it as a sex crime. Although they should not be treated as sexual criminals, they should be aware that their actions basically make them one. Another issue to address is defining what constitutes as sexting and what does not. There needs to be an analysis and categorization of the types of images, so children and teens know what is deemed inappropriate. It may be seen as a violation of privacy but cellphone and internet usage is not contained to just their social sphere and can be easily accessed by anyone.