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Monday, March 12, 2018

Sexting seems unstoppable


There are multiple potential risks derived from the practice of sexting. Among others, it happens that if something is done in private and transcends the public, the right to privacy, honor and self-image are violated. According to a recent article published in El País, behind sexting are cases of revenge, abuse and economic, emotional or sexual blackmail that increase the victimization by the ingrained of certain stereotypes or social topics.

Since 2009, the prevalence of sexting, a risky practice that consists of electronically sharing sexually explicit material, has increased exponentially. According to a meta-analysis published at the end of February in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, a considerable number of young people under the age of 18 participate or have participated in sexting practices at some time; in particular, 1 out of 7 (15%) sending sensitive material and 1 out of 4 (27%), receiving it.

A recent publication in El País says that although the prevalence of sexting was higher among older adolescents and on mobile devices versus computers, the study puts on the table an issue to pay special attention to: the entrance of preadolescents between 10 and 12 years old in sexting practices, an age group that for Jorge Flores Fernández, expert in the safe use of ICT and founder in 2004 of PantallasAmigas, is especially vulnerable. "The increase in prevalence and practice at younger ages has to do with the fact that there is currently a greater availability of technology: we have more portable devices, increasingly cheaper and with connections that are also increasingly cheaper, so limitations that could exist before now they do not.

On the other hand, the age of use of technology is decreasing and this affects that adolescents enter earlier this type of risk practices; but they do not do so much because of a sexual issue but rather as a form of mischief, for attention or boredom. In the end, they have so much availability that they end up doing things that maybe they would not do if there were not so many facilities," says Jorge Flores.

According to recent INE data, more than half of children with 11 years already have a mobile phone. Experts like Jorge Flores insist that there is no more appropriate age to buy the first phone, but it is more a matter of maturity and skills. "It's like comparing it to how old you can get into the water alone, or when you can start skiing. Everything will depend on the preparation of their parents and monitors, rather than on a specific age. With the use of technology something similar happens, it depends more on the accompaniment, the knowledge and the time that is dedicated to them. In spite of everything, to establish a marker, I consider that having full autonomy with a mobile phone connected to the internet and social networks seems inadequate especially in the case of children under 13 years of age", explains the founder of Pantallas Amigas, who believes that the group of preadolescents or adolescents of younger age, from 10 to 12 years, is not able to see the risks that imply practices such as sexting compared to an older adolescent" and who may have a greater awareness of what he is doing".