The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Sextually active

In the last two years, sexting- sending nude pictures through text messaging-has revolutionized the way teens interact with the opposite sex.

But teenage girls are often ignorant of the consequences that come from this virtual trend.? According to CBS news, six students from Pennsylvania, three males and three females, were charged with child pornography last January when the three teen girls sent nude photos to the boys.

“Girls just don’t realize that text messaging is an unreliable source of privacy,” said Linda Meyers, a private practice psychologist who specializes in sexuality and family counseling. “Anyone can pick up a phone and see the pictures.”

This new flirting craze has intorduced teens to a new level of intimacy that has never been available before. Since older generations did not have this constant connection with the media, parents, school administrators, and law officials, it’s become a difficult situation to handle.

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When the outside world becomes involved, big issues arise for teens.

Meyers has been a family counselor and sexuality specialist for 34 years. She was a student of the University of Southern California’s undergraduate psychology program and received her master’s degree in Child Development from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is currently working with clients in their pre-teen years and older, dealing with self-esteem-related issues and harassment.

“Young guys are eager to show the pictures as if they’re trophies,” Meyers said. “And the most detrimental consequence a girl can face is embarrassment from the media, her parents, and especially her peers.”

When schools find out about incidents of sexting, administrators report it to the parents and it can become a legal matter. There are many cases in which boys email or post pictures that then leak onto the Internet. Some of these boys have gone to court on charges of child pornography.

These extreme cases are labeling high school boys as sex offenders, Meyers said.

While the photos are initially meant for a boyfriend, the X-rated clips can be shared with a friend or classmate. Most young boys don’t give a thought to the embarrassment it may cause a girl, while the exact opposite is for her.

“They are delivered to get sexual attention from their boyfriend,” said Meyers.

A nationwide survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit organization, said that approximately 20 percent of teens have sent racy or nude photos via text.

“When boys post the pictures, it is usually out of retaliation over a break up or because they have become offended by the way the girl may have behaved during the relationship,” Meyers said. “Technology is ruining our future’s social skills. Everything is communicated by computer or a phone, leaving less practice for social interaction.”

The social networks Facebook and Myspace have created a gateway to new world of communication and opened the door for girls to behave provocatively in a “safe” environment. But camera phones have given an easy, private, and quick tool for teens to spice up their relationships.

Why do girls feel the need to send these racy photos? According to Meyers, low self-esteem or a mere suggestion from a boy can spark the interest. Girls feel that a guy will think she is more adventurous if she complies with his requests, and boys enjoy the validation.

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