Teen texting, teen sexting, yeah, yeah, old news. Teens do stupid things and even my tween has heard about the risks. I thought I was pretty in-the-know about what goes on in the world – that is, until my friend delivered this line over lunch:
Can you believe how many people our age are sexting?
Having been safely married for the past almost two decades, I’m obviously out of touch. Well, my fingers are, anyway. They only recently discovered Twitter. And let’s hope my man is out of touch, too, and stays that way after he reads this post.
Leave it to me to have to get in on the action somehow. I mean how did I not know this? So I started asking around and it turns out people I know are using their phones as sex toys every day. Shocker.
Take my friend Peter. He’s a clean cut doctor I imagine spends his nights taking eligible ladies to the ballet.
Turns out that when he and Deena split, he was anxious about hitting the singles scene. After 11 years of marriage, he was over the hill at 43 and out of dating practice. Not so much. Within weeks of the news going public, his BlackBerry began buzzing.
First it was friendly hellos and invites for dinner from moms he’d met at his son’s soccer games or around town – some single, some not. Then BAM!
“Nine times out of 10, within three sentences, the texting would turn sexual. Women would type, ‘I’m going commando’ or ‘I’m wearing my sexy boots’, and then pictures would follow – boots, boobs, thighs and more.”
With little prompting, women would shed more than just their inhibitions. “Midday, during work, they would click photos under skirts, beneath desks, and even send audio of themselves climaxing. It was unbelievable.”
All of a sudden, he was using his BlackBerry as a sex toy. He was attached to it, carrying it in his pocket when he saw patients, hiding it from his kids at home.
The stats are revealing. Sexting is not just for teens anymore, according to a 2010 poll by Pew Research Center. The U.S.-based non-partisan fact tank reports that 6 per cent of the more than 2,000 adults interviewed copped to sending nude or nearly nude photos and 15 per cent said they had received them. This year, the UK-based mobile phone news site Recombu reported higher numbers: Of 2,000 adults surveyed, 48 per cent of women and 45 per cent of men admitted to sending illicit messages.
My friend Marcy, who is 45, shrugs and says everyone is doing it, doing it, doing it. She says it’s smart to squeeze in a little texting foreplay before dating. “The world is online now and so is dating. People like to window shop.” Since men are visual, sending a photo is a great way to flirt. Duh.
I spoke to Glenn, too. Sexting makes you bolder, he says. Behind a screen you’ll do and say things you’d never do or say to a person’s face. When he split from his wife five years ago, he was shocked by how aggressive women get by text, but it’s the new reality.
“I type ‘What are you wearing?’ or ‘What’s your body like?’ – questions I’d never ask outright,” he says. “Women don’t even have to answer. They just click a button to send a naked shot. It’s that easy.”
Fun, safe? Maybe, but there are risks. Just ask any teen. Or ask Cory Silverberg, a Toronto sexpert. He says acting on impulse can get you in trouble.
Case in point: In the Recombu survey, 16 per cent of men and 8 per cent of women admit to committing the ultimate sexting error – firing off a sext to the wrong person. Oops.
Although texting feels intimate, don’t forget that your name is attached. Once it’s out there, it’s out there, a la Anthony Weiner.
Plus, you can never be sure who’s on the receiving end.
Peter says he was like a teen boy at first, playing games. Get this. He’d show sexts to his friends at a bar and let them take turns getting women to strip and click. Personally, I find that behavior a little sick, but my friend Jill doesn’t. She sent hundreds of naked shots to Russ over the course of their 3-year relationship, and six months after their breakup, those pix were a hot commodity.
“Who cares,” Jill says. “I’m proud of my body.”
For her and for many adults, sexting is good, clean, modern fun.
And yet, she’d be horrified if her kids found out, or if they send sexts themselves. One day, her tween was playing games on her phone and clicked on a shot that, thankfully, didn’t show her face.
“I told him it was spam,” she says. “I’m not that dumb.”
Maybe not, but why not just use Snapchat, the new mobile app that lets users (mostly teens) take and send shots that vanish in seconds?
Hmmmm, maybe I know more than my friends do, after all.
SEXTING – FLIRTING WITH DANGER OR GOOD, CLEAN FLIRTING?