Teens, Sexting, and the Big Lie

Teens, Sexting, and the Big Lie

Sexting teens. These two words together strike fear into the hearts of most parents. And, teen sexting has received notable media coverage. So, it’s easy to be concerned.

I want to be clear on what I mean when I write about sexting.

Sexting is the exchange of sexually explicit text messages, including photographs, via cell phone. Sexting is a punishable offense in the U.S.A.

This is not the first time I’ve written about sexting. In fact, I’ve written in the past pleading with parents to discuss sexting with their teens. So, I most definitely think sexting is a topic every parent should talk about with their child. But I also believe in teaching our kids how to weed through all of the information we read online to get to the facts.

Parents, there is no better way to teach our kids than to show them by example. And when it comes to sexting teens, the media and culture are feeding us a big fat lie. They’re telling us sexting is common, cool, and popular. And, we’re believing their lies hook, line, and sinker!

Think I’m wrong? Let’s look.

Sexting Teens and Culture

Some people are under the false impression that posting sexy or naked photos of themselves online is the path to becoming a celebrity. As parents, it’s easy for us to be shocked by this. But a quick look at some popular movies and songs can quickly show how culture has normalized sexting.

Here are just a few examples of songs and movies which reference sexting:

  • Sex Tape – 2014 film
  • Blockers – 2018 film
  • “Sexting” by Ludacris – song
  • “Thru Your Phone” by Cardi B – song
  • “Dirty Picture” by Taio Cruz – song

It’s easy to see how our teens could get the impression that everyone is sexting. And, some celebrities seem to joke about it and even condone it. What our teens need to know is that most celebrities carefully protect their image. Sexting or posting provocative images is not the way to draw the attention of Hollywood executives. Executives from all industries know the importance of managing your online image. They look for people who understand their value and the importance of online privacy.

Sexting Teens in the Media

I’ve run across several articles on teens and sexting recently. And, while I appreciate the caution in these articles for teens to avoid sexting, these articles give the impression that most teens are sexting. If that’s true, it’s a scary time to be a parent. Heck, it’s a scary time to be a teen, a teacher, a youth worker…the list goes on and on.

But are the majority of teens really sexting? Because if the majority of teens aren’t sexting and we continue not to educate but to exaggerate the issue, we contribute to the problem by sending teens the subtle and incorrect message that everyone is sexting.

So, Let’s Look at the Data on Sexting Teens

A recent study of over 110,000 teens from around the world found 1 in 7 teens are sending sexts. And, 1 in 4 are receiving sexts. I realize those numbers seem high. But again, let’s consider the message we’re giving to teens. These numbers also translate to 6 in 7 teens aren’t sending sexts. And, 3 in 4 teens aren’t receiving sexts. Isn’t that a more powerful message to give your teen? Isn’t that the message you want to share with them as a parent?

Still not convinced?

Let’s multiple those numbers by 100 to get a better look at a ratio of teens in your child’s circle.

We have 700 teens. 600 of them aren’t sexting. 100 of them are.
We have 400 teens. 300 of them aren’t receiving a sext. 100 of them are.
The majority becomes clearer at this number, doesn’t it? The fact that sexting among teens is less common than what we might think is great news!

The Data Shows Sexting Teens are the Minority NOT the Majority

That’s the powerful message our teens need to hear. They are in the majority when they choose not to sext. Parents, isn’t that powerful?! Isn’t it nice to be armed with the truth instead of shaking in fear.

Now, go talk to your teens about sexting. If you need some talking points I’ve got some ready for you. And as you talk to your teen, remind them most teens are not sexting. Challenge them to stick with the majority!

Teens, Sexting, and the Big Lie
Teens, Sexting, and the Big Lie

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