Remember when school rumors about who was slutty were of the analog variety? That is to say, whispered behind hands in the hallway? Not anymore folks. In this all blog, all the time kids are snapping digital proof of their moral transgressions — and beaming naked pics of themselves to classmates' cell phones, who of course forward the illicit snaps onto friends.
Think what happens in cyberspace stays there? Nope. In La Crosse, WI, a 17-year-old boy was recently charged with child pornography, sexual exploitation of a child and defamation in conjunction with posting nude photos of his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend on his MySpace page. The naughty pics came from a cell phone.
The impulsive racy acts have consequences lasting well beyond "delete." To see how,
Scandalous photos are the perfect ammunition for jilted boyfriends, who post and share them as revenge. The sheriff in the Wisconsin case says, "I think they just do it to impress their boyfriends. When he breaks up, he `vents,' in his words, by posting them." In Syracuse, NY, after a bevy of girls sent nudies to their boyfriends, they discovered another boy had been collecting them all on a DVD — that he was trying to sell!
Psychologists say the technology coupled with typical teenage hormones and lack of judgment, may lead to lasting reputations that will haunt them. Another sheriff who investigates these matters says, "It's often so spur of the moment that they're not thinking about where those images might end up. They might think it's just fun and games at the time they do it, but these images can really spread like wildfire."
Should teens get limits on technology until they're old enough to understand the consequences? Is this just another example of a more permissive culture? Should trafficking cell phone pics be treated like child porn?