Teens and Sexting

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A new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that:

  • 4% of cell-owning teens ages 12-17 say they have sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or videos of themselves to someone else via text messaging, a practice also known as “sexting”;

  • 15% say they have received such images of someone they know via text message.

Cell phones are more and more a part of teen life. In Pew Internet’s 2004 survey of teens, 18% of teens age 12 owned a cell phone. In 2009, 58% of 12 year-olds own a cell phone. We also have found that cell phone ownership increases dramatically with age: 83% of teens age 17 now own a cell phone, up from 64% in 2004.

Legislatures in a handful of states are stepping in to consider making laws that downgrade the charges for creating or trading sexually suggestive images of minors by text from felonies to misdemeanors. In 2009, the Vermont and Utah state legislatures downgraded the penalties for minors and first-time perpetrators of “sexting.” Ohio has legislation pending to criminalize, at a milder level, sexting between minors.

Read the whole report here.

Posted by

Sui Zhang