As technology continues to grow and help us make and maintain interpersonal connections, increase workplace efficiency, explore the universe and the atom, it also contains the capacity to do irreparable harm to institutions, businesses, families, the environment and individuals. The speed of evolving technology sometimes outperforms our ability as individuals and a culture to appropriately assess the impacts such technology can have, before the harm is done. The advent of ‘sexting’ is one such harm stemming from the ready availability of cellular technology and digital media developed over the past 10 years.
‘Sexting’ involves teens sending explicit photographs of themselves or others via cellular technology and/or digital media. Due to the strong anti-child pornography laws in the United States, along with tendencies toward risk taking behaviors and strong affinity for technological aptitude, children and adolescents are at risk of multiple consequences from engaging in ‘sexting’ behaviors.
In the presentation, we will define ‘sexting’, review the psychology related to online and digital media behaviors, review studies reporting prevalence, and the potential consequences of ‘sexting’ behavior. We will also review various ways to address this very dangerous behavior with children, adolescents and families.