2014, the year of sexting

(CNNMexico) – At the age of 14, Mary has her own smartphone and dedicates several hours of her day to her social networks; She shares what she’s doing via Facebook or Twitter, and from time to time, she sends photos of her naked body via Snapchat to her boyfriend. For her, as for her friends and millions of millennials, this is part of the usual conversation; a proof of digital love.

A little more than three years ago, sexting, defined as the sending of suggestive, semi-naked or completely naked photographs through text messaging applications, has become an everyday thing for Internet users, especially between 15 and 22 years of age and adults who own a smartphone.

Between 2012 and 2014, the sending of suggestive photos among adults who own a smartphone grew from 6% to 9% in the United States, one of the markets that carries out this practice the most; The percentage of people who received sextings grew from 15% to 20% between 2012 and 2014, and 3% of these people said they forward someone else’s nude photos, a number that remained intact, according to the Pew Internet, Couples and Technology study Research Center.

But although sexting does not distinguish between ages or sexual preferences, millennials have been more inclined to this practice. The reason, the immediacy, the ease and the inherent that technology is and the few consequences for its generation, according to the director of psychology at the University of Utah, Donald Strassberg, in an interview.

In mid-2014, a survey on the frequency of sexting conducted by the School of Psychology at the University of Utah, United States revealed that 20% of 11,000 respondents (all between 18 and 22 years old) had participated in these types of messages in the last anus.

“I cannot say for sure how much the use of sexting increased in 2014, but without a doubt there has been a growing trend in the last three years and it is a trend that is not going to decrease, as there are more and more applications that promote it” said University of Utah director of psychology Donald Strassberg.

Naked apps

The use of apps such as Snapchat, KiK and Line increased in 2014, and one of the most frequent uses for these was the sending of nude or semi-nude photos, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. On Snapchat, the fact that messages are deleted 10 seconds after being sent is part of what makes them attractive for sexting.

Apps focused on attracting the opposite sex like Tinder also contribute to the trend, said Strassberg in addition to others that focus on user anonymity like Secret and Whisper, which also makes them “sexy” for these activities.

For Strassberg, the scant consideration that Internet users have on the consequences of sending something through the network increases the trend. It’s easy, it’s immediate, and in some apps, like Snapchat, there is a belief that messages self-destruct after a few seconds, or that they are anonymous, as in apps like Secret or Whisper.

“How ephemeral the messages in these apps seem or the anonymity puts a kind of shield for users, which can actually be hacked and does not exist,” said the psychologist.

Strassberg recalls that in some cases of sexting in the United States, in middle or high schools, they have ended in suicides, because what seemed “a digital romantic moment while they were together, when they break up, is the perfect revenge and that is counterproductive,” said the expert.

In 2014, 13% of American adolescents between 12 and 17 years of age who performed sexting in the last year, agreed to have had at least one suicide attempt while the same population range that did not send this type of photos only had a 3% suicide attempt rate, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in mid-2014.

The United States, Eastern Europe and some countries in Asia and Latin America are where sexting has been most evident, Strassberg said, as well as in some communities within the United States.

Fight sexting?

For the psychologist at the University of Utah, this practice is not intended to decrease and although there is software and apps to block or detect this type of content before it is sent, Strassberg suggests that one of the few effective ways to minimize the consequences Sexting is conducting awareness campaigns in schools and through families.

“While doing the survey, I found that most colleges and high schools are not interested in knowing if this happens among their students. It’s like avoiding knowing what’s going on in order to do nothing about it. More attention should be paid to understanding the consequences of posting something on the web, “he said.

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