"If you think the trend of teen sexting is troubling, some teens’ attitudes are more so. Many teens say it’s no big deal," writes Rianna Wentzel. Picture: MELINDA DESLATTE/AP
Yet another plight, known as sexting, has been raising its ugly head for a while now.

According to the media, the age of 10 is when children start sexting each other.

This means of communication has become a norm, particularly among teens, who see no harm in his form of technological communication. However, this has dire consequences, leading to humiliation, depression and in some cases, suicide.

For this reason I want to share this extraction taken from the Uknowkids.com website in America with information on this topic, compiled by Steven Woda, co-founder and chief executive of uKnow, and a leader in internet safety and security for over 15 years. He frequently speaks on internet and mobile security, e-commerce and information economics.

If you think the trend of teen sexting is troubling, some teens’ attitudes are more so. Many teens say it’s no big deal, nothing could really happen. A 2009 study on teens and technology reported that 90% of teens who had sexted said that no negative consequences ever came from it.

Teens think they are invincible, that nothing bad would happen to them. If this describes your teen, talk about a few of seven consequences of sexting that could make them regret hitting “send”.

  • It could be shared with people you don't intend to share it with. The person you are sexting might forward it to just one or two friends, who forward it to a few more, and so on. Or somebody else using that phone could stumble across it by accident. Or the recipient could decide to spread it around if they get mad at you.
  • It might go viral. If the photo is leaked online, you have officially lost all control of it. It could be posted and re-posted, including adult sites, where anyone with a web connection could download and save it for their own use.
  • You could get a bad reputation. If you’ve got sexts of yourself floating around school, it will raise eyebrows - and not in a good way. Some people will like looking at the pictures, but won’t respect the subject of the photos - you.
  • Adults could see it. A sext message that gets loose can be seen by your parents, teachers, coaches, or loved ones.
  • There could be legal consequences. Taking, sending, or forwarding nude pictures of anyone under 18 - even yourself - could get you slapped with child pornography charges and you could be put on a sex offender registry for life.
  • You could get into trouble at school. Many schools suspend kids for sexting, and reserve the right to confiscate phones if there's reason to believe there are nude pictures of someone under 18 on them.
  • It could backfire. You might send a sext intending to impress or interest somebody, but it could turn them off instead. They might get the wrong impression of you - the exact opposite of what you wanted.

These seven consequences are serious business. Your 10-year old or teen (whom you should be talking to about this topic) should think through all of them and make a decision not to send and share sext messages, of themselves or others. It’s true, some kids do get away with it. Your child could get lucky and their sext could be discreetly deleted. You are the choices you make. Why risk it?

* Rianna Wentzel, Grassy Park

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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