In the last week there has been a theme that has blown up in my life. Students around the country are sending naked pictures to each other, posting them on twitter, and trading them like baseball cards. You may have heard about a case that made the news this Fall where Virginia teens have been caught with explicit nude pictures on their phones. Another case in Michigan involved several students who took pictures of a couple involved in a “sex act.” They then sent them to friends and shared them via social media sites. In many of these cases when the police are involved the owners of the pictures are considered in position of “child pornography.” This is a felony. In other cases they are exploring if teens will end up on the sex offender registry.
Just because they decided to take a picture that is a little “naughty.”
It’s hard for us adults to fathom exactly what makes someone want to send a naked picture of themselves to a group of people much less one person. We may want to shut down the internet and hide all technology. Yes, there are safety measures students and parents can take to protect their online life. However, I think sometimes what is missing for students is the understanding of consequences to actions.
There Are Good And Bad Consequences
You study for a test, chances are you will get a better grade than if you hadn’t. Hard work in life is noticed. If you make wise choices there are rewarding consequences. This is true for social media and online presence as well. No one has ever gotten in trouble for being fully clothed smiling and waving in any appropriate to share situation. Technology is a thing. It isn’t good or bad. How we choose to use it or abuse it is what makes it. Where do they want their consequences to land?
Is It Really That Safe?
I tell students, “Before you post anything think it through:
- Would this be the first thing you show your pastor (or grandparent)?
- A year from now will you regret posting this or will it just make you laugh?
- Why do you want to post this?”
Just getting them to think before they post means they will consider what they send. The ONLY way information belongs to only you, is if you are the only one who is holding it. Once it leaves your phone, tablet, or device it is out there. Read the fine print of those so called, anonymous or eraser apps. They actually hold onto your information for a period of time. Once it leaves your hands there is no way of knowing where it will end up. Will you be hurt if it gets into the wrong hands?
Never Ending Consequences
There are so many stories now of celebrities who regret taking pictures of themselves in compromising situations in the past. It effects your emotional health as people keep commenting, laughing and noticing something you are not proud of. However, it is important for them to know getting in trouble may go beyond embarassment or an angry parent. Having naked pictures of anyone under the age of 18 is considered position of child pornography, even if you are a minor. This is a serious crime. There are cases pending now trying to decide if parents of teens who own these types of pictures will be charged, because the data plan is in their name. Are they allowed to misstep in their adolescence? Sure. However, there are mistakes that can’t be easily erased. They may not know.
In all of this students need to explore their own hearts. What’s the motive behind a picture or a posting? Are they just worried about getting caught? Do they want to live a life that’s different? In all of this it might be time they understand the type of consequences they are really looking for. Negative attention isn’t worth the drama. You know they just might even use that same technology to stand out for Christ. Crazy thought? I know a student who sends a Bible verse everyday to all of her friends. She never gets a response back from them. Yet, her hope is they might have a desire to know Him a little better, and it just might help their day. It doesn’t have to be ALL bad.
OH- and the best way to avoid all of the negativity? Don’t take the picture in the first place…
Some good recent articles on this topic: