Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Message in Stolen Nude Photos; Don't Blame the Celebrities

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Message in Stolen Nude Photos; Don't Blame the Celebrities

Article excerpt

More revealing than nude celebrity pictures have been our reactions to the recent theft.

A common response - just don't take naked selfies - misses the most critical point. Digital sexual behavior is part of the dating and relationship landscape. The criminals who hacked celebrities' phones, stole private photos, sold or reposted them, violated those women and their privacy. They also sent a loud message to everyone else: Your data is not safe.

And celebrities are hardly alone in capturing intimate moments with a phone.

The way parents talk to their children about this case lays the foundation for how upcoming generations will think about a shifting landscape of intimacy and privacy.

Several studies suggests that your child will, at some point, encounter a sexually explicit phone message. This will probably happen younger than you think. While fewer teens are having sex than previous generations, they are more likely to use digital devices to experiment with sexuality.

Nearly a quarter (20 percent) of middle school students with text- capable cellphones admitted to receiving a sexually explicit text according to a study published in Pediatrics in June. A 2012 study in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine also found that one-quarter of teens said they have sexted. By college, those numbers are much higher. A 2013 study from Indiana University- Purdue University found 80 percent of the college students surveyed had received sext messages, and nearly half, 46 percent, had sexted with pictures.

A report from the Pew Research Center released in February found that 20 percent of adults surveyed say they have received a suggestive picture, up from 15 percent two years ago.

If your child has a smartphone or is friends with someone who does, this latest news about celebrity photos merits a conversation. As evident from this and so many other cases that have been in the news, the consequences of virtual sexual behavior can have real life impact just as damaging to lives and reputations as behavior offline.

The names involved in this particular case, however, are ones your child has likely heard of.

When I broached the topic with my own tween daughter, she interrupted me to say that the strangest picture she's taken of herself is of her making a duck face. …

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