Young people integrate online and digital technologies into their everyday lives in increasingly complex ways. As McGrath (2009, p. 2) notes, ‘[y]oung people…see technologies (especially the internet) as a vital part of their social life and the building of their identity’. As mechanisms for socialising, education, relaxation, gaming, romance or communication between friends and peer groups, new technologies provide a key framework within which young people live their lives. Yet, the ways in which they incorporate romantic and sexual relationships and practices into this technology-dominated, virtual world has been relatively underexplored by researchers and, subsequently, it has become problematic for policymakers. Media and social commentators play an important role in drawing our attention to the intersections of digital technologies, sexuality and sexual practices of young people. However, such commentary has also seen these complex interconnections misunderstood and oversimplified. At the very core of contemporary debates around young people’s online sexual practices, new technologies, social media, and childhood sexuality has been the phenomenon dubbed ‘sexting’. While sexting has many meanings, which we critically explore in more detail below, it generally refers to the digital taking and distribution of images of a nude/semi-nude person through mobile phone or social networking sites.
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- An Introduction to Sexting and Young People
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