Most college students can and do send “sexts,” sexually explicit text messages that can contain naked or partially nude photos, according to studies by researchers at the University of Rhode Island.
According to a survey of 204 university-age pupils conducted by assistant professors Sue K. Adams and Tiffani S. Kisler, two-thirds (67%) have sent sexually explicit text messages. A whopping 78% have also received risqué texts, while 56% have been treated to accompanying images. Generous as ever, 17% felt compelled to forward these pornographic missives on to third parties.
With sexting now a crime in Rhode Island, minors found guilty of breaking the law can be charged as “status offenders.” Transmission of sexually explicit images of individuals under age 18 is also a serious breach of legal guidelines, and may subject offenders to child pornography charges. All create a “delicate situation” for impressionable teens and twenty-somethings according to researchers, who emphasize the importance of educating college students as to the potential dangers of inappropriate technology usage.
Social and professional ramifications of sharing compromising photos are considerable, as images can potentially wind up in anyone’s hands or live forever online, where they’re visible to prospective schools, significant others and employers. While current sample sizes and populations may not be representative of all college students at large, they do point to a disturbing truth. Unbeknownst to parents, hundreds of thousands of kids may unsuspectingly be opening themselves up to not only ridicule, but also the threat of being labeled a sex offender.