Teen sexting leads to more dire consequences among girls than boys
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Teenagers believe sexting to cause more harm to other people than to themselves, a new survey has revealed.
The survey also revealed a strong gender gap with regards to third-person perception of sexting: both males and females believed other females were more harmed by sexting.
Ran Wei of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina and Ven-Hwei Lo of the School of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong carried out the survey of 236 adolescents in the USA to examine the effects of teen sexting that involves serious privacy and personal safety issues.
They participants also consider that sext messages subsequently posted to the Internet on social networking sites and elsewhere are more harmful than those messages that are shared en masse among a group of phone users. However, they felt that consensual sexting between two people was less harmful.
One observer has suggested that the desire for risk-taking and sexual exploration among teens, coupled with a perpetual connection with peers via mobile telephony, creates a "perfect storm for sexting."
"Sexting raises a new issue with far-reaching social consequences for teenagers because it spans the boundaries of interpersonal communication and mass mediated communication," the team noted.
"In addition, sexting poses a challenge in defining the boundary between what is socially appropriate and what is inappropriate in various communication contexts," they said.
They pointed out that fun or flirtatious messages between two teenagers in a romantic relationship might be shared outside that relationship to a large audience on wireless networks or the internet, causing psychological, social, cultural, and legal problems. Indeed, there have been numerous legal cases involving high-school students who have sexted in recent years.
"Sexting among teens is characteristic of an expected negative message from the perspective of parents, educators, and law enforcers," the researchers stated.