Sexting or the lack of awareness about privacy
Sexting is a phenomenon that seems to be in fashion among teenagers. It consists in the dissemination or publication of content of a sexual nature, produced on a voluntary basis by the sender using their mobile or other device. If the user doesn´t protect the content, they will lose control over it the moment they share it, as anyone will be able to do a mass forward of it ensuring it ends up in the public domain.
A study by the University of Texas in the United States on 14 to 19 year old students revealed that 28% of the students had sent a naked photo of themselves, 57% had been asked to send a naked photo of themselves over the Internet or phone, and about 31% had requested they be sent a similar type of photo. Closer to home, the research Kids Online, promoted by the European Commission, points out that 7% of Spaniards between the age of 11 and 16 claim to have received or seen messages of a sexual nature in the last year.
Although Sexting may seem like a fun way of flirting with someone or to show your partner how lucky they are, the reality is that with new technologies available today this can end up being more than just an erotic game, as they are allowing a massive and uncontrolled dissemination of their photographs. On this point, and taken from the “Guide on teens and sexting”, from Inteco and PantallasAmigas, children are more vulnerable due to their lack of experience and resources to defend themselves against the risks of exposing their information to the public domain: threats to their privacy, cruelty or public humiliation, ciberbullyng, extortion and blackmail, harassment by peers or adults and, as a result, psychological and physical risks.
Faced with this phenomenon it is important to regulate content and protect children using the Internet, but above all, the prevention and awareness-raising of children about the risks they assume when they send a photograph of an erotic nature, as once it leaves their devices there is no going back and there is no way to know who will receive the image or what that person will do with it. In other words,it is important to educate teens and preteens about privacy.
However, despite warnings adults give to children, the chances that peer pressure and their need for self-affirmation will lead them to continue sharing these kinds of pictures are very high. Because of this, as important as raising awareness about the consequences that exist when a picture is sent via mobile phone or any other technological device, is that they know they have tools to protect information that they share: restricting access to their social networking profiles, putting passwords on their devices or protecting documents that are to be shared with services such as the one offered for free by Prot-On which gives them the possibility to decide who and when can access their files and what they can do with them.