Monday, December 5th, 2011
A new study has found that while one out of ten 10-17-year-olds has sent or received a sexually suggestive text message on a cell phone, only out of 100 of those images would constitute “child pornography” as it is currently defined by the law. The New York Times reports that though the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, does not point to widespread child pornography on cell phones, the data does confirm that tweens and teens are using technology as part of exploring their sexuality:
Over all, the new report found, 149 youths interviewed for the study, or 9.6 percent, said they had sent or received images that included full or partial nudity in the previous year. Just over 2 percent of those who engaged in sexting said they had appeared in the pictures or had taken them themselves, and 7.1 percent said they received sexual images from someone else.
In most cases, the motivations for sending or forwarding sexual texts were not malicious. Most of the youths who sent such messages said that they did so with someone they were involved in a relationship with, or that their messages were flirtatious gestures to someone they had a romantic interest in.
About 31 percent who appeared in or took sexual images said that alcohol or drug use had been a factor. And despite public concerns about lewd photographs of minors that start out as private messages becoming widely distributed, only 3 percent of the minors in the study said they had forwarded sexual photographs that they had received.
The fact that about a third of sexual messages were created or sent when alcohol or drugs were involved suggests that the children who are doing the riskiest messaging are engaging in other risky behaviors as well, said Nancy Baym, a professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas and author of the book “Personal Connections in the Digital Age.”
Image: Teenage girl texting, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
The number of young teenagers and “tweens” affected by clinical eating disorders or more general “disordered eating” is rising in America, a number of new studies show. CNN.com reports on the trend:
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Once considered a risk only for wealthy, high-achieving teenage girls, eating disorders such as anorexia (and, more rarely, bulimia) are becoming increasingly common among children, even little boys.
“In the last two years, we’ve actually had to add a treatment track to deal with kids ages 9 to 11,” says Margaret Kelley, clinical nurse manager for the eating disorders treatment program at The Children’s Hospital in Denver. “And we’re getting many more boys. We used to see one or two a year at most, but we’ve almost always got one or two boys in the program now.”
The average age for the onset of anorexia used to be 13 to 17. Now it’s 9 to 12, and children as young as 7 have been diagnosed, says Abigail Natenshon, a psychotherapist and author of “When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder.”
No one knows how many preteens are affected today, though 5% of adolescents are affected. What is known is that at least 10% of adult anorexics first showed clear symptoms of the condition before they were 10 years old — and kids growing up today may be even more vulnerable.
More than 60% of elementary and middle school teachers reported that eating disorders are a problem in their schools, according to a study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
The vast majority of kids in this country don’t have an eating disorder and will probably never develop one. But experts are concerned about the rise in nearly epidemic proportions of “disordered eating” — a pattern of dieting or calorie restriction that’s unhealthy and a known trigger for eating disorders. Some troubling statistics from the National Eating Disorders Association:
– 42% of kids in first through third grades wish they were thinner
– 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of becoming fat
– 51% of 9- and 10-year-old girls say they feel better about themselves when they are on a diet
Numbers like these are red flags for experts. And perhaps the most worrisome news is that it’s not just overweight kids who are restricting calories.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, significant numbers of normal-weight and underweight kids are also dieting: 16% of girls ages 8 to 11, and 19% of girls ages 12 to 15. The numbers are slightly lower for boys, though these, too, are rising.
Friday, August 5th, 2011
Fame and other individualistic values, such as financial success and physical fitness, top the list of values most important to “tweens” between ages 9 and 11, according to a new study conducted by UCLA researchers and published in the Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace.
In 1997, fame ranked 15th on the list, researchers told CNN.com, suggesting that the past decade has reshaped the way young people set goals, and how they expect their lives to unfold.
“(Tweens) are unrealistic about what they have to do to become famous,” Patricia Greenfield, Ph.D from the Department of Psychology at UCLA and co-author of this study told CNN. “They may give up on actually preparing for careers and realistic goals.”
“With Internet celebrities and reality TV stars everywhere, the pathway for nearly anyone to become famous, without a connection to hard work and skill, may seem easier than ever,” said Yalda Uhls, a UCLA doctoral student in developmental psychology and lead author of this study. “When being famous and rich is much more important than being kind to others, what will happen to kids as they form their values and their identities?”
Greenfield advises parents to talk with their kids as much as possible about the television and other media they are consuming, helping tweens keep the images they are seeing in healthy perspective.
(image via: http://www.visualphotos.com)
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