Spotty Youths

Tweens Are Sexting Up a Storm, But Not Having Much Sex

So can we stop with the hysterics?

The apex of teendom, sexting at the mall. (Photo: Getty images)

The apex of teendom, sexting at the mall. (Photo: Getty images)

Old people love freaking out about what kids are up to these days. It’s like parents forget that they, too, used to get high at lunch and make out in school supply closets (everybody did that — right?).

Sexting is the 2014 parental hangup equivalent to pot-smoking in the ’60s and video games and Marilyn Manson music in the ’90s. Kids are doing it, and parents just cannot get over it. In fact, sometimes they’re mad enough to punish kids with child pornography charges if they find out they’re doing it. 

Little Emmaleigh is sending suggestive photos to boys? Let’s slap her with criminal charges that are far more damaging than any consequences a racy photo could create. Bulletproof logic.

A new report proves that the uproar over sexting is really only making everyone feel awkward. Yes, one in four tweens is sexting, according to the Daily Beast — but the child pregnancy rate is the lowest it’s been since it peaked in the ’90s, and overall rates of teen sexual activity haven’t changed in 10 years. 

Furthermore, there’s no correlation between sexting and symptoms of behavioral or emotional difficulties, so kids who sext really don’t need your smug pity. Teenagers have been having sex since the dawn of time — haven’t we all read Romeo and Juliet? The only difference is that now, they’ve integrated technology into their dating rituals.

It’s true that racy photos or texts can be saved and posted to the Internet, which does suck. But maybe if everyone stopped being so judgmental, we wouldn’t lose our shit every time we found out someone we knew had sent a sext. For the most part, sexting doesn’t have a negative impact on someone’s life until people find out about it and start slut-shaming.

After all, making kids feel like criminals and harlots for acting like humans is surely more damaging than sending someone a flirty picture.

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com

Comments

  1. New research on the subject shows that Sexting of any kind was associated with higher rates of engaging in a variety of sexual behaviors, and sending photos was associated with higher rates of sexual activity than sending text messages only.

    Most states in the US have changed the “sexting laws” to make it more realistic with todays standards. No longer are juveniles charged with child pornography crimes for participating in “sexting” if the juvenile is close in proximity to the other juvenile involved. The problem becomes when the child is sexually attracted to a juvenile that is significantly different in age. For example a 14 year old sexually attracted to a 4 year old. They can in these cases be charged with the child pornography laws if they possess images of this type of nature. I think Law Enforcement has done a pretty good job making the punishment for the crime fit the crime.

    Here is the link to the study. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/01/01/peds.2013-1157