Mobile device users commonly use the term "texting" for the short messaging service that allows them to quickly send a note to another user, but they may be less familiar with "sexting," the trend of sending each other sexually explicit or suggestive content, usually photographs. While sexting can take place consensually between people who are in a relationship, it also occurs unknowingly or against the wishes of a person who is the subject of the content.
Sexting includes a variety of risqué stunts, from a girlfriend sending a nude photograph of herself to her boyfriend to a stranger snapping an indecent picture of someone in a locker room and forwarding it to his friends. With cameras being a popular feature on mobile devices, technology readily allows users to create and spread this content purely at whim.
Not surprisingly, the trend is popular among teenagers, who tend to view the activity as a method of flirting. In a survey by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Cosmogirl.com, results showed that 21% of teen girls and 18% of teen boys have sent or posted nude or semi-nude images of themselves. Numerous cases exist, however, where this type of "flirting" has eventually led to public humiliation after a relationship is over and a spurned lover spreads the compromising images around the school. A widely publicized case involved young actress Vanessa Hudgens whose ex-boyfriend spread fully-nude photographs of her online.
LegalIn some cases, sexting has led to legal situations, particularly where teenagers have been involved due to the content falling under the definition of child pornography.
- Sex + Texting = Sexting (Washington Post)
- Sexting (Mahalo.com)
- Teens unaware of long-term repercussions of sexting (Chicago Sun-Times)