Peer pressure, media blamed for teen 'sexting' trend
Sending and receiving sexy images via mobile devices, known as ‘sexting’ is found to be spawned by peer pressure, report Australian researchers.
Why young people engage in ‘sexting’ revealed through teen interviews
The finding, presented at the 2011 Australasian Sexual Health Conference in Canberra, comes from interviews that included 15 males and 18 females, aged 15 – 20 years, who cite several reasons they feel pressure to send sexual images to each other.
Media hype, said the teens, drives some of the behavior. In the interviews, young people said they felt compelled to engage in sexting because the media bombards our culture with sexual images of young people, creating pressure to follow suit.
Both boys and girls said peers pressure them into exchanging sexual images. Some of the pressure for sexting comes from boyfriends who send sexy images of themselves, then ask for the same in return.
In some instances, girls see others sexting and feel they should do the same.
Sexting important for teen boys
For boys, sexting is important to avoid being ostracized by their peers, or being labeled “gay”.
In other instances, teens reported they were sent pornography videos or sexual images of people they knew without being asked.
Shelley Walker from the Primary Care Research Unit in the Department of General Practice at the University of Melbourne said, "The phenomenon has become a focus of much media reporting; however research regarding the issue is in its infancy, and the voice of young people is missing from this discussion and debate."
According to The Australian Communication & Media Authority, 90 percent of 15 to 17 year olds own a mobile phone.
Walker says …" continued meaningful dialogue is needed to address and prevent the negative consequences of sexting for young people."
The problem with sexting is that it can have lasting repercussions. The study finding highlights the importance of addressing ways to help teens avoid peer pressure that leads to ‘sexting’, through ongoing open dialogue about the possible ramifications.
Image credit: Morguefile