Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nude photos of teens - not unusual

A new survey from The National Campaign shows that 22% of teen girls and 18% of teen boys in the US have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves on the internet. (Read full report.)

Granted, only 653 teens answered the survey, but the answers are still interesting. They raise a lot of questions. My first question, though, is what US people mean by "semi-nude". I know many in the US are hysterical about nudity, so maybe they mean photos with "just a little underwear" or something? Although the report lists "definitions of terms", this term is not defined.

Secondly, I wonder - contrary to my first question - if this means that US teens are getting more relaxed about nudity. Could this actually be a sign of a more healthy attitude than before? I can't really find any signs of that in the material.

Why do guys send nude photos of themselves online? The main reason given (when asked why boys send photos of themselves) is "Get or keep a girl’s attention" (for some reason, to get or keep a boy's attention was not included as an alternative). 61% answered that. 57% answered "Get a girl to like them" ("Get a boy to like them" was not included). 49% "To get noticed", 49% also "In response to one he received".

Teens think that "sending suggestive messages or nude/semi-nude pictures/video of oneself" is dangerous (67%), flirty (61%), stupid (57%), exciting (49%), hot (46%), fun (43%), lame (42%) and immoral (40%). Maybe the last one in my list is the most interesting: it shows that in the US, the "moral majority" of teens now thinks that it's okay to send these things.

We also see that the answers are very ambivalent: it's dangerous and stupid, but also (or therefore?) exciting and hot.

As in other parts of life, it may seem that the internet changes the way we behave in very fundamental ways. It will be interesting to see more research - not the least research in other countries.

(Thanks to VG for pointing me to this article.)


  1. Anonymous19:44

    Interesting how you judge and label an opinion different than your own as "hysterical." I wonder if there is research on the subject of arrogant Europeans?

    I am an American. I think teens sending each other nude photos is inappropriate. I think nudity in general is something that should be intimate and private. I am hardly hysterical about this opinion. I am hardly shocked or offended that others disagree. To each their own.

    Thanks for the intellectually lazy, reductionist straw man. We hysterical Americans see them all the time.

  2. If you are not hysterical, why do you take my comment that "many in the US are hysterical about nudity" as directed towards you? What I would label "hysterical" is for instance to label as a sexual offence (with severe punishments) the sending of a nude photo of oneself to someone who agrees to receive it.

    I see I should listen to you about "straw men", seeing how clever you are at putting one up...

  3. Anonymous09:05

    so, how's life on the Hershey Highway, Bjorn?

  4. "Anonymous": Have I said anything to suggest I'm going there?