You cannot have missed the story this week about how a picture of a naked girl on an album cover led to Wikipedia being blacklisted by the Internet Watch Foundation in the UK. That blacklisting, which in turn prevented people from being able to edit Wikipedia posts depending upon their ISP, was lifted after a global media protest about treating the virtual image differently to the real one. Being in possession of the original Scorpions album would be unlikely to lead to a prosecution, so how come the exact same image was being treated as 'potentially illegal' when found on Wikipedia?
Anyway, I digress. The point being that naked images of teenagers and young adults are not all posted online by perverts and paedophiles, a large number are put there by the teenagers themselves.
A new survey, undertaken by a company called TRU which specialises in research on teens and twenty-somethings, and published by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com reveals that 36 percent of teen girls have posted online, or electronically sent, nude or semi-nude images of themselves.
Pretty much the same number of teenage boys (31 percent) have done the same. One suspects that the availability of the mobile phone camera has helped boost the bravado of the naked teens and lead to more naked images being posted online.
Although more often than not these images were meant to be private, the survey points out that 33 percent of boys and 25 percent of girls have had such images shared with them. Something which could, of course, bring the whole issue of cyber bullying into play. The survey also reveals that some 15 percent of teens have sent sexually explicit images, video or text messages to people that they only know online and have never met in the real world.
Meanwhile, 38 percent of teens reckon that exchanging such sexy content makes 'hooking up' more likely, and 29 percent think that dating as a result of sending naked photos is pretty much expected.
"Teenagers are early adopters of technology - from the latest social networking sites to the hottest new cell phones," says Susan Schulz, Special Projects Editor at CosmoGirl.com publisher Hearst Magazines. "While this tech savvy can be seen as a positive, our study reveals there's also a negative side. Teenagers should be aware of the real consequences to this type of behavior and we need to provide them with guidance and encourage them to make smart choices."
Unsurprisingly, the sending of sexually suggestive text messages is more prevalent than the sending of naked pics, with 39 percent of teens admitting to sending sexually suggestive text messages or email. 48% of teens say that they have received such sexually suggestive messages.
66 percent of teenage girls who admit to sending sexually suggestive content say they did it to fun or flirtatious, while 52 percent thought of it as being a sexy present for their boyfriend.
Some 40 percent just thought it was funny and 19 percent of teens in general see sending naked images as being no big deal.
Marisa Nightingale, Senior Advisor to the Entertainment Media Program at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy concludes "Parents should understand that their own notions of what's public, what's private, and what's appropriate, may differ greatly from how teens and young adults define these concepts."