I’m not sure if any of you have heard of this or if I’m just an oblivious hermit but apparently there is this new phenomenon called ‘sexting’…meaning sending naked or semi-naked pictures through cell phone picture messages. Weird. I stumbled upon this story while watching the news over the weekend and thought that it fits within our discussions on citizen media and the public sphere quite perfectly.
Many teenagers are being faced with criminal charges for ‘sexting’, recently six Pennsylvanian teens have had to undergo legal repercussions for taking part in these acts (some call them felonies). One in five teens are involved in sexting which is why there is an urgency to educate them about the effects of their actions; once pictures are released into the public sphere they are gone. Those who take part in these acts are completely naïve, the reality is that once pictures are posted on the internet or released into the digital sphere all control is lost. The connection between the Internet and cell phones becomes quite clear, once a cellular picture message is sent the receiver then has the ability to send it to whoever and however many people they want.
Children are growing up too fast and entering the larger public sphere at too young of an age. Communications technologies are being wrongly used, further showing that children need to be censored (just as with the internet the same can be said for cell phones). Children are not responsible enough to understand the severity of this issue and the consequences of getting themselves involved in sharing x-rated photos of themselves.
We all know that once pictures are released in any type of digital format we automatically lose track of them and can no longer control who sees them and what is done with them. Issues of privacy and self censorship are directly linked to this conversation. I’m sure that teens aren’t the only ones involved in sending offensive picture messages but its frightening to hear about the younger generation taking part in these types of acts especially when they don’t know what they’re getting themselves into. The severity of this issue rests in the very fact that once you send pictures you automatically lose your control and rights to privacy, in essence your private life is exposed to the public. Similar examples are posting pictures on Facebook or Myspace.
Do children have enough discretion to censor themselves or do higher authorities need to intervene?
If you want more information about this check out the following websites: