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According to Kristi Pahr in “Is Teen Sexting Cause for Concern, or No Big Deal? How to Help Kids Stay Safe Online”, what are the potential negative outcomes of teen sexting? How do Pahr’s arguments parallel or contrast Sternheimer’s arguments in Ch. 6? Be sure to provide specific examples from each of the texts.minimum 250words

Is teen sexting cause for concern, or no big deal? How to help kids stay
safe online.
The Washington Post
By Kristi Pahr
July 19, 2019
Many parents dread the day their kids get their first phone. Yes, devices are a vital and necessary
link for social groups and school. But smartphones also open new worlds for preteens and teens,
exposing them to territory that may make parents uncomfortable. The technology can leave kids
vulnerable to bullying, harassment and other dangerous situations they might not otherwise
experience. That includes sexting.
One New York mother learned firsthand the potentially devastating ramifications of teen phone
use when she found out her 13-year-old daughter had been exchanging sexually explicit texts
with a new boyfriend.
“We are very open and frank about sex in our house and have been very frank about sexting and
the repercussions,” said the girl’s mother, who asked to have her name withheld to protect her
daughter’s privacy.
“She even specifically said to me that she’d told him up front that she would never send him a
nude photo,” the mom added. But about a week after her daughter started dating the boy, she
came home very upset.
“Apparently, the two of them had been talking dirty to one another via text, and some girls in
their class had read the texts on his phone and were making fun of her,” the mom said. “She was
both really hurt that he allowed them to see those texts and mortified that they’d been seen.”
Sexting, in the form of shared photographs or explicit text messages, is becoming a fairly
common experience for teens and preteens. Research shows that 14.8 percent of kids ages 12-17
have sent explicit text messages while 24.8 percent have received them.
There are conflicting opinions, however, on what that means for kids, including the impact, both
long and short term, on their mental health, and whether the risks involved are as serious as
they’ve been portrayed. That leaves parents wondering: Should they try to actively restrict
sexting, or accept it, when it’s done consensually, as a normal part of growing up and becoming
sexually active?
Jeff Temple, a researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch, recently published a
commentary in the Lancet Child Adolescent Health arguing that sexting between teens is a
normal and expected exploration of sexuality. He writes that as long as it’s done consensually, it
can be a part of a healthy sexual relationship. But other experts caution that it’s not so simple.
Teens may understand the difference between sending or receiving explicit texts consensually
and nonconsensually, but some experts argue that actual consent, especially within the nuanced
confines of teenage digital interaction, may be more difficult to understand. Catherine Jackson, a
Chicago-based licensed clinical psychologist and neurotherapist, explains that the brain does not
fully develop until a person is in their 20s and that because of this, teenagers may not understand
the implications of consent.
“Teens are capable of making logical, sound decisions for things they feel readily equipped for
and that pose little to no pressure,” Jackson said via email. Not riding with someone who’s been
drinking, or not drinking themselves, not cheating in school, avoiding physically dangerous
situations, and similar choices teens make daily show us they are capable of using sound logic
and judgment. “However, when they are unsure of what to do, are in a new situation, do not
know how to handle an experience, there is peer pressure, or they have little time to think things
through, teens are much more likely to act impulsively and make poorer decisions.”
When faced with the new and exciting prospect of sexual communication, teens may not be
capable of understanding all aspects of the situation, including potential for later harassment,
legal ramifications, or the effect it can have on friendships or social standing within their peer
group. And though consent may be given, it is, by nature of the not-fully-developed adolescent
brain, not informed consent.
“When teens are faced with peer pressure or are involved in intense emotional situations, they
are more likely to choose short-term rewards without considering long-term consequences,”
Jackson said in her email. “Therefore, they may not realize if they consent to sending nude or
sexually suggestive pictures to their partner now that the pictures may be shared with others or
resurface on the Internet later or after a breakup.”
There are also legal ramifications to consider. Anyone who sends or possesses explicit photos of
minors risks criminal charges of child pornography and could potentially be required to register
as a sex offender, even if those pictures were sent and received consensually. Inclusion on the
sex-offender registry is lifelong and may need to be disclosed on college and job applications.
And a teen may consent to sending her boyfriend nude photos but what happens if that
relationship ends? The photos or explicit messages might be seen by others or used as revenge.
Inadvertent sharing is another risk. One teen using another’s phone could see photos that were
not meant to be shared. The result can be catastrophic, and even though there was consent
involved in the initial exchange, bullying and harassment can occur.
How parents can approach it
Jackson advocates having a frank, open conversation with teens and tweens about this. The
conversation around sexting, like the conversation around sex, is multifaceted. Here are her
suggestions for some talking points to include in the discussion.
Make sure your child knows messages and pictures they send online or via cellphone are
not private or anonymous. They should know anyone can and often will share their
pictures or messages, by forwarding them or taking a screen shot and posting it on social
media. Once a picture or message is sent, your child has no control over what happens to
it, who sees it or where it goes.
Talk about what your child thinks their partner will do with pictures in the event of a
Discuss the consequences with your child, both legal and emotional, of sending and
receiving inappropriate messages and images. Instruct your child to immediately delete
any inappropriate or explicit images they receive, and make clear that just having them
can lead to consequences.
Tell your child to never distribute inappropriate or explicit messages or images. Ask your
child how they’d feel if something they sent was passed around. Encourage them to treat
others how they’d want to be treated. Ask your child to make a rule to reject others’
requests to send them inappropriate or explicit images, even if they trust the person. The
potential consequences are simply too great to risk.
Encourage your child to block or delete people who pressure them or make them feel
uncomfortable around these decisions. And tell them that if they receive or see an
inappropriate or explicit message or picture of someone, they should make that person
aware of what is being sent around.
Ask them to make a personal rule to only send pictures with all of their private parts fully
covered. Tell them not to pose for others, or photograph themselves, while doing
suggestive acts. A rule of thumb is if they can’t send a photo to their grandmother, then
it’s not a picture they should take or send.
Tell them to enlist the help of an adult if they feel too much pressure to do anything
they’re uncomfortable with, or they are unsure of what to do.
According to the New York mother, her daughter’s sexting experience opened the door for
another in-depth talk on the ramifications of sexting, so they were able to turn it into a teaching
“It prompted yet another discussion about what should and should not be shared via cellphone, as
well as talking about sexuality in general and what she was and was not ready for,” the mom
said. “It actually helped cement why sending a photo is so dangerous because while some words
were embarrassing, she said she realized just how bad it would have been if it had been a photo.”

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