Sexting: Gender and Teens—Findings from my new book!
I will be doing a couple of campus presentations on the study discussed in my new book, Sexting: Gender and Teens, and thought it would be timely to share some of what I have learned. These are
findings related to teens. Jump below to find information on the original study and the data set.
How do teens define sexting?
Sexting is a term imposed upon youth by adults. Youth had great difficulty defining sexting.
Youth regard sexting as a range of practices in which intimate relationships, desire, and sexuality are expressed.
How do teens describe the gendered motivations for sexting?
Girls assert they want romance and one-to-one intimacy.
Boys assert they are swayed to participate by a desire to shine among male peers.
Some youth believe that sexting is not sex, because it does not include direct physical contact, and they see moral and practical benefit in that fact.
Some youth believe that if you are truly in love with the other person , then sexting is not sexting—it is romantic intimacy.
How do teens view the gendered consequences of sexting?
Girls and boys recognize that boys will likely gain “bragging rights” from their sexting activities.
Girls and boys recognize that girls will likely be shamed by others if they are found to be involved in sexting.
Girls who are identified as engaging in sexting are labelled “whore”, “slut”, “bus”, “flip” and other derogatory terms, suggesting they have low moral standards.
There are no similar terms to be applied to boys.
The shaming of girls comes not only from their peers (boys and girls). A girl who engages in sexting may be shamed by family members and other adults, such as teachers, school administrators, and neighbors.
By engaging in sexting a girl may likely bring shame on her family, who will also be shunned by others for her actions. (Parents of other children, school officials, and others in the community).
Boys face embarrassment, not shame, for their involvement in sexting activities (if such activity does not merit legal response).
These findings are derived from a secondary analysis of data collected in:
Building a Prevention Framework to Address Teen “Sexting” Behaviors.
(Grant #2010-MC-CX-0001). Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Office of Justice Programs. U.S. Dept of Justice. (2011-2013)
P.I. Andrew Harris, Dept of Criminal Justice, Umass Lowell
Mixed Methods: Focus group interviews and surveys
• Three States: MA, OH, SC
• Teens: 123 total
• 44.7% male; 55.3% female
• 18 gender segregated focus groups
• Parents and Other Caretakers: 92
• 9 focus groups
• Other Adults: 117
• Variety of groupings including educators, law enforcement, and community leaders
Read more about this in: Sexting: Gender and Teens from Sense Publications.