Background[ edit ] The first published use of the term sexting was in a article in the Australian Sunday Telegraph Magazine. Exchanges between partners that are shared with others outside the relationship. Exchanges between people who are not yet in a relationship, but where at least one person hopes to be. Sexting has become more common with the rise in camera phones and smartphones with Internet access, that can be used to send explicit photographs as well as messages.
Young adults use the medium of the text message much more than any other new media to transmit messages of a sexual nature,  and teenagers who have unlimited text messaging plans are more likely to receive sexually explicit texts.
Whether sexting is seen as a positive or negative experience typically rests on the basis of whether or not consent was given to share the images. Nevertheless, Australian laws currently view unders as being unable to give consent to sexting, even if they meet the legal age for sexual consent. The difference between using these applications and traditional texting is that content is transmitted over the Internet or a data plan, allowing anyone with Internet access to participate.
Kik and WhatsApp appeal to teens because of the anonymity of the applications. Snapchat appeals to teens because it allows users to send photos for a maximum of ten seconds before they self-destruct. Those sending photos over Snapchat believe they will disappear without consequences so they feel more secure about sending them. There have been several cases where teens have sent photos over these applications, expecting them to disappear or be seen by the recipient only, yet are saved and distributed, carrying social and legal implications.
Unfortunately these applications carry the same risks and consequences that have always existed. Snapchat[ edit ] A study found that 4 percent of teenagers aged 14—17 claim to have sent sexually explicit photos of themselves. Fifteen percent of these teens also claimed to have received sexually explicit photos.
This suggests a consent issue of people receiving photos without asking for them. This is enhanced with Snapchat , as the person receiving snapchats will not be aware of the contents until they open it.
Sending sexual images as a joke makes up approximately a quarter of the participants. Sexting thus can be considered a "behaviour that ties into sexuality and the subsequent level of relationship satisfaction experienced by both partners". Based on the interviews conducted by Albury and Crawford, they discovered that sexting is commonly used in positive aspects.
According to Albury and Crawford, sexting was not only an activity occurring in the context of flirtation or sexual relationships, but also between friends, as a joke or during a moment of bonding.
The study had a small sample size, so more research needs to be done surrounding sexting and motivation, but it is clear that sexting is a phenomenon that is not constrained to simply unattached individuals looking for fun; it is used by those in intimate relationships to increase feelings of intimacy and closeness one's partner. Thus, instead of increasing intimacy in these types of relationships, sexting may act as a buffer for physical intimacy. Some studies of adolescents find that sexting is correlated with risky sex behaviors,      while other studies have found no link.
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire surveyed 1, children and caregivers, reporting that only 2. In the University of Utah's study, researchers Donald S. Of those receiving such a picture, over 25 percent indicated that they had forwarded it to others.
In addition, of those who had sent a sexually explicit picture, over a third had done so despite believing that there could be serious legal and other consequences if they got caught. Students who had sent a picture by cell phone were more likely than others to find the activity acceptable. Strassberg, McKinnon, et al. However, while technically accurate, the 2. As seen in Table 1 of their publication, Mitchell et al.
Despite it being widely reported in the media, the overall prevalence figure of 2. In a study, close to half of the adults' interviewed had sexual photos or texts on their mobile device s. Many of these intimate images and words are actually sent to complete strangers. In an article in Scientific American , however, the article says that men are actually more likely to initiate some form of intimate communication, like sending nude photographs or suggestive text messages.
The reasoning behind this is that men seem to be more open about their sexual drive, which promotes the instigation of sexual contact. Also in this article, it says, "The age group that is most keen on sexting is 18 to year olds". Amy Adele Hasinoff published an article trying to get rid of the stigma that sexting is simply exploitation of sexual matters. Women are sexualized whenever they post or share any form of intimate media.
When it comes to sexting, there is a big difference between sexual exploitation and a consensual decision to express one's sexuality and share an image of their own body with someone who wants to see it. Sign at the Women's March in Oslo , reading, "No More Dickpics" If a person sends an explicit image of themselves to a partner, then it can be against the law to re-transmit a copy of that image to another person without the consent of the originator.
While there are many possible legal avenues for prosecution of people who knowingly breach the confidence of those sending sexual messages, in practice, nude images can be widely propagated without the consent of the originator. Studies have shown that sex crimes using digital media against minors reflect the same kind of victimization that happens offline. The report highlighted the risk of severe depression for "sexters" who lose control of their images and videos.
Lifestyle magazines often portray sexting as a positive activity for adults without mentioning the risks. Sexting is seen as irresponsible and promiscuous for adolescents, but "fun and flirty" for adults. The University of Utah study with a population sample of teens ages 14—18 stated that about one third of respondents did not consider legal or other consequences when receiving or sending sexts.
Young People's Understandings of Gendered Practices of Self-Presentation  shows that teenagers engaging in sexting were concerned that their parents may see or find out about their involvement with sexting.
Some teenagers shared that their "main risks of parental discovery were embarrassment for both parents and young people and 'overreaction' from adults who feared the photo had been shared. Albury and Crawford argue that adolescents are well aware of the differences between consensual sexting and distribution of private images with negative intent.
Further, they argue young people are developing norms and ethics of sexting based on consent. Creation and distribution of explicit photos of teenagers violates child pornography laws in many jurisdictions depending on the age of the people depicted , but this legal restriction does not align with the social norms of the population engaging in the practice, which distinguish between consensual activity and harassment or revenge.
Child pornography cases involving teen-to-teen sexting have been prosecuted in Oregon,   Virginia,  and Nova Scotia. According to a study conducted by professors at the University of New South Wales,  due to child pornography laws that prohibit any minor from consenting to sexual activity, issues of consent among adolescent teens is seldom discussed.
Much like the discourse surrounding "abstinence-only" education , the prevailing attitude towards sexting is how to prevent it from occurring rather than accepting its inevitability and channeling it in healthier ways. According to the study, instead of criminalizing teens who participate in sexting, the law should account for whether the images are shared consensually.
This would mean adopting an "ethics" approach, one that teaches and guides teens on how to respect bodily autonomy and privacy. According to a study done by the health journal Pediatrics, more than one in five middle school children with behavioral or emotional problems has recently engaged in sexting.
Those individuals who have reported sexting in the past six months were four to seven times more likely to engage in other sexual activities such as intimate kissing, touching genitals, and having vaginal or oral sex , compared to children who stated they did not partake in sexting.
The study included participants who were between the ages of 12 and 14 years old. The children were pulled from five urban public middle schools in Rhode Island between and Seventeen percent of the children tested claimed they had sent a sexually explicit text message in the past six months.
Another five percent admitted to sending sexually explicit text messages and nude or semi-nude photos. Sexting that involves minors under the age of consent sending an explicit photograph of themselves to a romantic partner of the same age can be illegal in countries where anti- child pornography laws require all participants in pornographic media to be over the age of majority.
Some teenagers who have texted photographs of themselves, or of their friends or partners, have been charged with distribution of child pornography, while those who have received the images have been charged with possession of child pornography; in some cases, the possession charge has been applied to school administrators who have investigated sexting incidents as well. The images involved in sexting are usually different in both nature and motivation from the type of content that anti-child pornography laws were created to address.
The laws disregard the consent of parties involved. Beyond Megan's Story" that if teens are convicted of a sexting charge, they have to register as a sex offender, and this takes away the impact of the title of sex offender. A girl who agreed to send her girlfriend a naked picture is not as dangerous to the community as a child molester but the charge of sex offender would be applied equally to both of these cases.
This turns sexting into a situation that would lead to different legal consequences when distribution of the material was not consented to by the creator. Primack, who draws from Amy Hasinoff's work, argued a media production model may be useful for distinguishing between child pornography and sexting from a First Amendment perspective. Primack, the motivation for creating and distributing sexts e. For these reasons, there may be arguments - grounded in reasoning provided by First Amendment doctrine - for finding some youth sexts exchanged between persons who are of the age of consent to be legally-protected speech.
Legal professionals and academics have expressed that the use of "child porn laws" with regard to sexting is "extreme" or "too harsh". Florida cyber crimes defense attorney David S. Seltzer wrote of this that "I do not believe that our child pornography laws were designed for these situations A conviction for possession of child pornography in Florida draws up to five years in prison for each picture or video, plus a lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender.
In order to develop policy better suited for adolescent sexting cases, it is necessary to have better terms and categories of sexting. University of New Hampshire typology has suggested the term youth-produced sexual image to classify adolescent sexting. Furthermore, they branch into two sub-categories: Aggravated cases include cases of sexual assault, coercion, cyber-bullying, forwarding images without consent, and abusive behavior.
Experimental cases are cases in which an adolescent willingly takes a picture and sends it to someone with no criminal intent and is attention-seeking. Legal cases[ edit ] In , 32 Australian teenagers from the state of Victoria were prosecuted as a result of sexting activity. Upon finding a student in possession of a photo on his phone that depicted the torso of a girl wearing only underpants, her arms mostly covering her breasts, the assistant principal showed the image to the principal, who instructed him to preserve it on his computer as evidence, which he did.
The court later ruled that the photo did not constitute child pornography because under Virginia law, nudity alone is not enough to qualify an image as child pornography; the image must be "sexually explicit". Loudoun County prosecutor James Plowman stood by his initial assessment of the photo and says he would not have pursued the case if the assistant principal had agreed to resign. Another boy was charged with child pornography in a similar case.
It is the first appeals court case concerning sexting. The case become controversial after attempts by the Manassas city police and prosecutors to take pictures of the teen's erect penis as evidence to compare with the video he sent to his girlfriend in January. District Attorney Thom LeDoux said consenting adults can send and receive sext messages, but minors can face felony charges for doing the same.
Before deciding to prosecute, he said he would consider if coercion was involved, if adults were involved, and if actual physical contact was made. Hasinoff said schools should talk to students about sexting, instead of simply demanding that they stop doing it. Rosa Rebimbas introduced a bill that would lessen the penalty for "sexting" between two consenting minors in The bill would make it a Class A misdemeanor for children under 18 to send or receive text messages with other minors that include nude or sexual images.
It is currently a felony for children to send such messages, and violators could end up on the state's sex offender registry.