The main purpose of this research is to explore the topic of sextingespecially among the youth. It is evident from the research thatsexting is a new aspect that has been brought forth by the advent oftechnology. The young people have had adequate access to mobilephones and the internet that enables them to send and receive vulgartexts (King, 2012). Additionally, sexting has been found to involvethe sending and receiving of nude and semi-nude photos between youngpeople. However, the behavior is mainly common between people who arein relationships. The research involved questionnaires and interviewsof 30 young people aged between 13 and 25 years. It was also foundout that sexting does not simply happen in isolation, but it ismainly influenced by other factors such as pornography that is foundonline (Eraker, 2010). Teenagers who pay their phone bills are morelikely to send nude photos and semi-nude photos through their mobilephone texting services. It is evident that the age of the people thatare having or acquiring phones is becoming increasingly small withteens aged even 10 years having acquired mobile phones.
Technology as brought both positive and negative effectsespecially to the young population. The advent of the mobile phoneshas been one of the long awaited technologies whose main aim andobjective was to enhance communication. However, mobile phonecompanies have made phones that have numerous capabilities such astaking photos, sending texts, sending images and even sending videos.The aspect of sexting is a new phrase that was first published inMerriam-Webster`s Collegiate Dictionary in 2012 (Gordon-Messer etal,. 2013). The phrase has largely been used to denote the aspect ofsending sexually oriented messages and images between mobile phones.The behavior is mainly common amongst the youths and teenagersespecially the ones in relationships. Previous research has indicatedthat teenagers who may not be in relationships can also send nude andsemi-nude images to one another in the hope that they will end up ina relationship.
The number of teens who own mobile phones has been rising day afterday since the year 2000. Previous research has indicated that thenumber of teens aged 12 and below who own mobile phones in the UnitedStates had risen to 58% in 2009 up from 14% in 2004. Additionally,research has also indicated that the teenagers have adopted themobile phones and they have become centerpieces in their lives(Levine, 2013). Teenagers can now create, send and receive nude andsemi-nude images and videos from their peers or from theirrelationship partners. Text messaging has been a centerpiece in thelives of many teenagers. is the newest trend in the messagingplatform in mobile phones that are used by the teenagers. It isevident that the parents, teachers and other child developmentstakeholders are worried over the trend. There are numerous studiesgoing on with regard to the misuses that teenagers subject theirmobile phones. Previous research has also indicated that it isdifficult for law enforcers and policy makers to come up with lawsand legislations that will curb this trend (Nunziato, 2012). Thelegislations developed vary from state to state with some of thestates such as Ohio making sexting moderated crime. Many people arguethat the issue is a social problem and that it should be dealt withoutside the realms of the legal system. However, there arelegislations in various states that prohibit the product anddistribution of nude and semi-nude images of teenagers. Thelegislation is grounded on the child pornography law that prohibitsthe production or spread of teenage nude or semi-nude images(Sirianni & Vishwanath, 2012).
According to previous research, it is abundantly clear that theadvent of mobile phones and technology has had adverse effects on thesex life of teenagers. It clear that the teenagers who normally sendor receive nude and semi-nude images or videos are the ones who haveclose personal attachments with their phones and use them for longtimes (Pertierra, 2008). Teenagers who hardly use their mobile phonesfor texting are not likely to send or receive nude and semi-nudeimages and videos. Additionally, it is also evident that theteenagers who pay for their own mobile phone bills are likely toengage in sexting than the ones who rely on their parents to caterfor their bills.
Statement of the problem
is an issue that has surfaced in the last one decade andhas been a great issue to parents, teachers and the government withregard to the effects it has on the youth. Teenagers using mobilephones are hardly hit by the phenomena especially because of therelationships they have with their partners. It is evident thatsexting is a misuse of technology and mobile phones by the teenagers.Nude and semi-nude images of teenagers have been circulated throughthe internet and texting services and this trend is worrying. Theincreasing number of young people with access to mobile phones isalarming and the aspect sexting is becoming a major issue. ischanging the teenagers’ sex life, as well as their sexualexploration (Thurlow & Bell, 2009).
It is evident that the law makers must come up with legislationsthat will curb this trend. Failure to control this trend might resultin crisis. Previously enacted legislations have failed to provideeffective solutions to the problem of sexting considering that amajority of the people involved are as young as 12 years (Watson,2010). It is also clear that the people appearing on the semi nudeand nude images do not sometimes have any control over the spread ofthe images and therefore the law enforcers find it hard to deal withthe problem.
The research paper sought to answer the following questions
What is the definition of sexting?
What age group is mostly affected by the behavior of sexting?
Is there any legislation that has been put in place to deal with the vice across the United States?
How does sexting affect the sexual behavior and exploration of the youth?
Is sexting a social problem that should be solved without inclusion of legal systems or is it a criminal behavior?
Does sexting equate to child pornography?
What are the primary negative effects of sexting amongst the teenagers?
The research project will be based on the following hypothesis
is a behavior that is mainly common amongst the youth
Sexing was brought forth by the advent of mobile phones and texting technology that allows teenagers to send nude and semi-nude images to their partners
is mainly common between dating partners.
Definition and perception of sexting
can be said to be the act of composing, sending andreceiving of explicit images and videos between people especiallyteenagers through their mobile phone’s messaging service. Thisbehavior is mainly common between teenagers who are in relationshipsespecially sexual relationships (Willard, 2010). Access to theinternet and the exposure of teenagers to pornographic materials overthe internet has been blamed for the development of this behavior.Teenagers as young as 10 years are also acquiring mobile phones thathave the capacity o send and receive images and videos hence adoptingthe culture of sexting. Technology can be blamed for the developmentof such behaviors as sexting in the society. It is clear that theinternet is not controlled and teenagers who can access have theaccess to explicit images and videos that trigger behaviors such assexting.
There are a number of researches that have been conducted withregard to the issue of sexting. The Cyber bullying Research Center isone of the organizations that have conducted a research on thebehavior sexting. According to the research, it is abundantly clearthat the behavior is not only common amongst the youth, but alsoamongst older people. However, Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W.Patchin, Ph.D., who conducted the research, teenagers are largelyaffected by the behavior of sexting. These researches asserted thatmobile phones are highly accessible and affordable and that 3 out ofevery 4 teenagers in America today have mobile phones (Slane, 2010).Whereas the teenagers are meant to use the mobile phones as tools forcommunicating or safe communications lines while in difficult, it isabundantly clear that most of them have adopted them as tools forenhancing their sexual behaviors such as sexting.
The term sexting, according to these researchers, has been used todescribe the act by teenagers especially girls to take nude orsemi-nude photos of themselves and send them through the mobilephones to their partners or friends. It is worth noting that suchimages can also be distributed through other platforms such as thesocial media and emailing. The biggest problem arises when some ofphotos sent by teenagers get to other peers. There have been variouscases of suicide recorded in the United States when some of the nudeor semi-nude photos are distributed online (Leary, 2007). The case ofJesse Logan was one among many cases where sexting has gotten out ofhand and resulted in suicide. When Jesse shared her nude photos withher boyfriend in high school at the age of 18, she did not know thatthe pictures would be accessed by the other classmates. When theybroke up with her boyfriend, he distributed the images to Jesse’sclassmates and she received insurmountable verbal insults,humiliation and abuse. Ultimately, the pain was too much to bear andshe committed suicide. This is a clear indication of the direconsequences that sexting may have in the lives of the teenagers.Another example of suicide resulting from sexting is the case of HopeWitsell who was a 13 years old girl who sent a topless photo to a boyshe liked (Leary, 2007). Unfortunately, the photo found its way toother classmates who rebranded her a whore. Although she withstoodthe verbal abuses for a few weeks, she ultimately committed suicide.
There are various national studies that have been conducted and datacollected with regard to the issue of sexting. The National Campaignto Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has carried out studies andgathered sufficient information and data with regard to the issue ofsexting. According to this campaign, there are approximately 19% ofteenagers aged 13 to 19 years had sent a nude or semi-nude photos ofthemselves either to their lovers or to their friends. The research,which was conducted in 2008, also found out that the teenagers whohad received nude and semi-nude photos from their lovers orcolleagues amounted to 31% (Jaishankar, 2009). It is evident fromthis research that teenagers were reluctant to admit that they sendsexually explicit photos but they admitted receiving such photos.
Another research study by Cox Communications in 2009 found out that9% of the teenagers had sent sexually explicit photos to theirpartners while 3% were found to have forwarded such photos. Theresearch also found out that 17% of the teenagers had received nudeand semi-nude photos from their love partners. Another research studyby MTV and the Associated Press also gave figure close to the abovediscussed with regard to the issue of sexting. This is a clearindication that teenagers have adopted mobile phones and the cultureof sexting is deeply rooted in the teenagers. The worrying aspect isthat the mobile phones are increasingly becoming affordable to everyteenager and the internet is a free area where pornographic imagesare found freely. This poses a very huge problem to the childdevelopment stakeholders. It is abundantly clear that this is asocial disorganization issue and the guardians, as well as thesociety has a role to play in alleviating this behavior (Jaishankar,2009).
The Cyber bullying Research Center conducted a research where 4400teenagers participated. The findings of the research indicated that12.9% of teenagers were likely to receive nude and semi-nude photos.Additionally, 7.7% admitted to have sent a nude or a semi-nude phototo a partner in the last past month. Whereas the males were viewed ashaving a higher likelihood of sending and receiving sexually explicitimages, it is clear that both genders engage in this vice. Sexing hasrecently been subjected to the legal system where the teenagerscaught engaging in sexting are charged with felony, criminal use oftelecommunication facility, open lewdness or sexual abuse of children(Slane, 2010). However, this aspect has not received much supportfrom various quarters since these are laws that are meant to protectthe children from the adults. Whereas some people are opposed to theidea of charging teenagers, others support it as a way of preventingthe deaths of people such as Jesse Logan and Hope Witsell.
The problem of sexting is an issue that must be faced head on by thevarious stakeholders. Previous research has indicated that theteenagers are mainly engaging in those behaviors when they are inschool. Therefore, the teachers are at the forefront of dealing withthis deviant behavior. It is recommended that the schooladministrator should inform the parent of the student caught sendingor having sexually explicit images in his or her phone (Sadhu, 2009).The involvement of the parent ensures that the teenagers get adviceand counseling if necessary. More often than not, the teenagersappearing in the nude and semi-nude pictures are worried about thebroadcast and the distribution of such pictures. Therefore, when suchpictures are noted by the teachers, the teenager may undergo stress,depression and trauma and may therefore need counseling and guidance.
It is also apparent that the teacher or the school administratorreports the matter to the law enforcement officers (Slane, 2010).Researchers have argued that the school administrator must not sharethe pictures or sexually explicit videos with the police but shouldonly confiscate the mobile phone and let the police investigate andfind out whether there are other students having such images andvideos in their mobile phones (Mainiero & Jones, 2012). It isevident that if the administrators forward the images to the policeas this may result to felony criminal child pornography chargesagainst the administrator.
The parents have a great role to play in the control of the deviantbehavior of sexting amongst their children. It is evident that theparents can control the adoption of mobile phones that their childrenhave. Therefore, it is the role of the parent to make sure that theirchildren are well guided in the use of their mobile phones. Theparent has the capacity to restrict the use of some of the servicessuch as texting in the child’s mobile phone (Jaishankar, 2009). Itis also essential to inform the children some of the dire effects ofdeviant behaviors such as sexting. Teenagers must be made aware thatthe mobile phone is for positive uses as a tool for communication.
The information and data gathered by previous research is alarming.While considering the increasing rates of sexting and the risingnumbers of teenagers owning phones, one is left wondering what oughtto be done to control this vice (Leary, 2007). Majority of the peoplewho engage in the vice do it for fun and to seek attention andappreciation from the peers.
This research will adopt a qualitative method of data collection.One of the qualitative methods will be the non-structured interviews.The interviews will be conducted on 30 teenagers aged between 12years to 18 years. The teenagers will be randomly selected amongstschool going children and youths. It is, however, worth noting thatthe participants in the interviews were required to have mobilephones which had the capacity to send images and videos through themessaging service. After sorting out teenagers between the ones withmobile phones and the ones without, the ones with mobile phones wererandomly selected interchangeably between girls and boys. The 30teenagers selected constituted of 15 boys and 15 girls. This is forpurposes of balancing the gender and finding out whether gender hasany effect on the sexting behavior amongst the teenagers. It will bevital to inform the teenagers participating in the interviews thatthe information collected will be treated with utmost privacy.Consent will also be sought from the teenagers before interviewingthem.
The choice of non-structured for this research was informed by thefact that this will enable unplanned questions which come up in themidst of the interview to be answered. I spent a number of days withthe interviewees explaining to them the purpose of the study andassuring them of anonymity. This created some form of trust betweenme and the interviewees and therefore they accepted to open up. Theinterviews are essential in that they provide an opportunity for theresearcher to seek clarifications and explanations on various pointsthat might seem ambiguous.
Questionnaires were also another form of qualitative data andinformation collection method that will applied in the research. Theteenagers who participated in the interview will participate in thequestionnaires. However, 100 teenagers have been randomly selectedwhile balancing gender to participate in the questionnaires. Thequestionnaires will constitute structured questionnaires which theparticipants will be requested to answer. It is, however, worthnoting that the participants were encouraged to participate in theprocess but the choice to answer all the questions remained at theparticipant’s discretion. The questions will be straightforward andeasy to answer with most of them having multiple choices and a fewrequiring the participants to explain in a few sentences.
Discourse analysis will be used an analysis tool for the collecteddata from the interviews and questionnaires. This is an extremelyeffective method that has been previously used and proven successfulby researchers. Additionally, personal analysis of data will also beapplied to analyze the collected data from all the participants. Itis evident that data and information collected must be analyzed inorder for it to become useful. Failure to have the data analyzedmakes it useless to this research. Computations must be done todetermine the percentage of participants who recorded certainbehaviors such as sexting. The information that would be collectedfrom the participants in the questionnaires and the interviews willbe treated with confidentiality in order conceal any personalinformation such as the names, phone numbers or email addresses ofthe participants.
There are various challenges associated with the use of interviewsand questionnaires as methods of data collection during research. Itwas evident that there were various people who feared and refused toparticipate in the research process. Mainly, the people who rejectedthe invitation to participate feared that their personal details suchas names and phone numbers would be known. It is also evident thatinterviewing 30 people would need enormous time and space, as well asrecording materials. The challenge of finding a location to gatherthe participants and the allocation of time for each participant wasa real challenge. It is clear that the participants in the researchare all students and therefore they might not be readily availablefor the interviews.
The question of bias was a major issue during the interviews and thequestionnaire answering. It is clear that sexting is not a goodbehavior that anybody would openly admit as doing. Therefore, it isclear that some of the participants were bias in their answers. Theseare teenagers who though that their details would be revealed andtherefore their sexting behavior known by the other peers. Thiscreated a huge room for biased answers from the participants. Theissues of money and time resources for conducting the research werealso real challenges during data gathering process. It is evidentthat the questionnaires required printed questionnaires that neededmoney to print.
Some of the above challenges were solved without enormous effort.Besides the money issue, the problems of privacy and bias were solvedthrough discussions with the participants. It was made extremely tothe participants that the information they provided would be treatedwith anonymity and that their identity would be confidential only tothe researcher. This made some of the participants who had retreatedto accept to participate in the process.
The internet and books are resources that have vast information withregard to every topic. This research would have lacked a vitalinformation and data input, if research would not have been conductedin the internet and in various books expounding on the topic ofsexting. The researcher intends to carry out extensive research onthe internet with regard to this topic. Books, journals and articlesalso provide critical information on research topics. They will alsobe applied in this research study.
It is clear from the research methodology above that the researchstudy on the topic of sexting will be carried out through theexploration of various sources of information. It can be argued thatwith such widespread sources of information, the topic willexhaustively be discussed and analyzed. It can also be argued thatwith the numerous information sources, the authenticity of theresearch paper and the information there is not in doubt.
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