Sexting: A Dangerous Game Not Worth Playing

iStock_000013767908Medium

Nowadays, you can share everything. Texts, tweets, statuses, blogs. You can tell your connections that you got a new job. You can show your followers a picture of the meal you just ate. You can, in 160 characters or less, give everyone on your timeline a piece of your mind. In this day and age, you can connect with virtually anyone at (almost) any time. The need to share goes beyond what beverage you bought at Starbucks. Sexting, the act of sending another person sexually explicit photos or messages via cell phone, has become popular as technology allowed for it.

Despite the risks of sending nude photographs, it’s reported that one-in-five adult cell phone users have sexted in some capacity. (According to the Pew Research Center, 44% of sexters are 18-24, 34% re 25-34, and 41% are 35 and older.) Many sexters are not aware that anonymity is almost impossible. Even if you cut out your face, photos on cell phones, tablets and digital cameras carry EXIF data – information on when, how, and where the photo was taken. Apps like Snapchat promise to destroy photos seconds after they’re viewed, but there is a downfall. Many smartphones can screenshot the images, finding a loophole in Snapchat’s M.O. (However, according to a recent study, the most popular type of photo taken in Snapchat is a selfie. Runner-up: kittens.)

Among teens, sexting is rising in popularity – studies show that 20% of teenagers (with 22% of girls and 18% of boys) engage in sexting. Often, sending these nude or seminude photos ends with tragic results. A recent case from 2013, in which an underage girl was stripped and written on with marker while she was passed out, ended with girl’s suicide after months of bullying. Similarly, in Steubenville, Ohio, a young girl was sexually assaulted – and the entire ordeal was documented via phones and posted on social media sites.

What teens initially deem harmless fun becomes something much more sinister: a source for constant bullying and, essentially, the spread of child pornography if the teen is under 18. According to the law, and as evidenced through recent cases, teens engaging in the sending of nude photographs could be reprimanded with misdemeanors, probation and even jail time.

Even if you feel that there is a sense of trust with your significant other, you never know where your relationship might lead – and where those pictures will end up. While a relationship might end, a picture lasts forever.

Is sexting a harmless act among long-distance couples? Or is it a dangerous game that threatens to ruin your life, career and reputation? Tell us what you think!