A new survey from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy surveyed some 1,280 teenagers, and found that over all 20 percent of the respondents have posted nude or semi-nude photos or video of themselves to the Internet. Percentages varied a bit between boys and girls, and 21 percent of boys and 18 percent of girls admitting to the activity, and the proportions jump up to one in three when young adults ages 20 to 26 are rolled into the figures.
Most teens say they send these videos or images only to their boyfriend or girlfriend, but full 15 percent of teens who send these materials send them to people they only know online.
“For the most part parents have no idea what’s going on,” wrote Amy Kramer in The National Campaign’s blog. “When parents were growing up their moms answered the phone and knew their friends’ voices. Phone conversations took place in the kitchen in front of everyone. Even if they took racy pictures of themselves as teens the only way to share them was passing around snapshots and then hiding them away. ‘Friends’ were people you knew and spent time with—not a classification on Facebook that applies equally to people you’ve never met as well as lifelong pals.”
Teens and young adults do seem to be aware that their behavior could cost them, and know the material could easily be shared with people other than the intended recipient. Three quarters of all respondents said they knew sending suggestive content could have “serious negative consequences,” and a quarter of teen girls and a third of teen boys said other people have shared private suggestive content with them.
Some 39 percent of teens also say they’ve sent sexually suggestive text messaging, IMs, or email messages.
Some 51 percent of teenage girls cited pressure from a guy as a reason for sending sexy messages; only 18 percent of teen boys cited pressure from girls as a reason for sending suggestive content. Roughly a quarter—23 percent of teen girls and 24 percent of teen boys—cited pressure from friends.
Roughly two thirds of teens (66 percent of girls and 60 percent of boys) say they send the messages to be “fun or flirtatious,” while 52 percent of teen girls say they send them as a “sexy present” for a boyfriend.
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