"One in five teen girls (22%), nearly as many teen boys (18%) and one-third (33%) of young adults say they have electronically sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude photographic or video images of themselves."
That was the scary and raw research delivered by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com in a study entitled, Sex & Tech. You can expect this news to makes its way through the regular mass media channels as a call to arms on the dangers of the online channels, privacy, mobile devices, the Internet and the new reality that younger people are more connected than ever and may not understand the long term implications of being able to publish anything at anytime to one another (and the world).
If we move beyond the images and videos, the numbers get just as raw and unnerving. Here's what was reported today on Marketing Charts for the news item titled, One in Five Teens Sends Sexually Explicit Images:
"On the receiving end of the messages, 48% of teens and 64% of young adults (56% total) say they have gotten a sexually suggestive message from someone else. Among young teen girls (age 13-16), one-third have received such messages. The research also finds that sexually suggestive images are frequently passed around and shown to friends: One-third (33%) of teen boys and one-fourth(25%) of teen girls say they have had nude/semi-nude images–originally intended to be private–shared with them. What teens and young adults are doing electronically seems to have an effect on what they do in real life, the survey found. Nearly one-quarter of teens (22%) say that technology makes them personally more forward and aggressive. Moreover, more than one-third of teens (38%) say exchanging sexy content makes dating or hooking up with others more likely, and nearly one-third of teens (29%) believe those exchanging sexy content are 'expected' to date or hook up."
Even if this content is going from one person to another, we've seen enough hijacked Sidekicks to know that the general rule of thumb must be: if you email it, you have to expect that it will be made public. Which is sad.
One of the more fascinating areas of these new digital channels is privacy and how it is changing. Young people - who have never known a world where everything they say and do is not posted on a Wall or tweeted - are going to define privacy in a very different way than we do. Digital Natives see things dramatically different (for further proof of this, check out the article from New York Magazine, Say Everything). All of this is going to make do-not-call registries and the like seem very rudimentary.
The bigger question: is this going to make people recoil and seek a much higher level privacy, or are we going to continue down this path where all of our lives become open books in online social networks and the like?