Special Report: Generation Sext
Published Monday, November 9, 2009 10:08PM EST
Sexting -- it's a play on the words sex and texting.
Some say it's just innocent, adolescent fun, but it's also a game that can have some very public consequences.
CTV's Daniele Hamamdjian caught up with a group of Montreal high school students who said sexting was a growing trend, one that includes everything from naughty text messages to nude photos.
(I have) things that my parents shouldn't see ... texts, like, guys that I'm interested in," said one girl.
Some sext messages are playful while others are provocative if not pornographic.
"Nude pictures," he said when asked what sorts of images he has exchanged.
He admitted that he has shared such picture with his close friends, but "won't, like, send it to everyone to embarrass the girl."
Some teens say such provocative messages sometimes lead to sexual intercourse.
"Kids ... hook up for one night stands and they're like fourteen," said one girl.
"It's socially acceptable among teenagers, but to parents it's not."
One expert says the technology teens are using to exchange sexual information is part of the larger issue of technology undermining privacy.
"You're making public things that you would have never done before," said Andre Caron, a youth and media studies professor at the University of Montreal.
"If you had a little diary when you were a teenager and you're writing in all your love stories and all that...and you locked it hoping your parents wouldn't find the key...well, forget it now."
While parents might be concerned, one expert says it's nothing more than normal sexual curiosity.
Peter Cumming, a children's studies professor at York University in Toronto, says people are extra sensitive because teens are involved.
"The alarm has been focused on teenagers because we go into a panic about teenagers - especially when you put sexuality and technology together," Cumming said.
But he says sexting is just a more modern version of "spin the bottle."
Cumming wonders whether the result would be the same even if there was no technology.
"(Critics) assume that teenagers are having sexual experiences because cell phones exist," he said.
"If you drop two teens on a desert island without cell phones or digital cameras, I'm sure they can figure (it out) themselves."
He also says that nobody ever got pregnant or caught an STD from a naughty message.
But there have been victims, including Ohio native Jessica Logan who sent a nude cell phone picture to her boyfriend.
After their breakup, he mass texted the photo to students in four different schools.
She was harassed and humiliated until she hanged herself in July 2008.
But Betty Stamatakos, a guidance counselor at John F. Kennedy High School in Montreal, says children can't take all of the responsibility for the misuse of technology.
"If we allow technology to come into our lives and as a parent we hand that technology over to our child ... it's up to the parent to monitor the technology that is passed on."
However, many parents CTV spoke with had no idea what sorts of images were on their children's cell phones.