The Truth About Teens Sexting

Kids and parents on what happens when intimate images and info go public.

ByABC News via GMA logo
April 14, 2009, 6:40 PM

April 15, 2009 — -- Sex easily and quickly integrated itself into the digital age; and now the teen trend of "sexting" -- where a user sends sexually explicit images or messages via text on a cell phone -- has parents struggling for a way to address the situation.

"We're seeing 14, 15 and 16-year-olds and up are very commonly sharing naked pictures or sexual pictures of themselves," said Internet safety expert Parry Aftab, of Wired Safety. "We're talking about kids who are too young to wear bras who are posing in them, and then topless and then actually engaged in sex or even in masturbation. So we are seeing a lot of kids who are sexually active."

There's nothing coy about this 21st century amorous pursuit. Children as young as 12, who aren't sexually active, are sending explicit, provocative and even pornographic images to their peers.

Click here to ask Internet expert Parry Aftab a question. Aftab will answer questions live on "GMA" Thursday.

Click here for more Internet safety tips from Parry Aftab.

"It's all about immediacy for them, and it's so much about, they're building their hormones and sexuality," said educator Dawn Russell. "It's so much about getting the opposite sex."

Aftab is concerned at how widespread the problem of sexting has become.

"We found that 44 percent of the high school boys that we have polled have seen at least one naked picture of a female classmate, and the boys are sharing their pictures too," Aftab said.

Click here to read legislation Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) plans to propose concerning internet and wireless safety for children and teens.

The results of this sexual file sharing can be devastating, as in the case of Jessica Logan.

Logan, a Cincinnati high school student, sent a nude cell phone photo to her boyfriend. But after their relationship ended, he sent the image to 100 students at four different schools.

Afterward, she endured a barrage of harsh treatment.

"She was harassed. She was called names -- filthy names," said Jessica's mother Cynthia Logan. "Things are thrown at her. Her reaction to all this was -- when she would come home -- anger, snapping. And I would ask her what was wrong and she wouldn't she wasn't divulging everything, just that she was having a hard time."

Jessica tried to combat what was happening to her by speaking out about her personal experience. With her voice disguised and her image obscured, she spoke to a local television station about her ordeal.

"She said to me it was the stupidest thing that she did," Cynthia Logan said. "She said, 'I do realize I made a mistake and I wanted to talk to the parents.' And she started to cry."