(BROOKLYN, New York): Sexting is a major online activity for a high percentage of Jamaica’s teenagers, a new study by the University of Technology (UTech) has revealed. According to the findings, 60 per cent of students across several grade levels acknowledged receiving nude or partially nude images. However, only 23 per cent admitted that they have sent nude images of themselves to someone. The researchers reported that the activity increased steadily as they moved up grade levels.
The images are generally shared over social-media platforms, such as WhatsApp, which is the medium of choice for 84 per cent of teenagers ages 13-18 years old, the data stated. This has come as no surprise to Diahann Gordon Harrison, children’s advocate, who said the survey has shown similar results to a comparable study that was carried out by her administration in 2016.
“Having done our own assessment of the way in which children and adolescents, especially, use different social-media platforms, we are not surprised from the perspective of the Office of the Children’s Advocate,” Harrison said.
“What is needed is continued public education amongst parents and those who have responsibility for children, encouraging them to have capacity sessions, to take advantage of teachable moments, which will give them the opportunity to speak to children about responsible usage.”
The study, led by professor of management information systems at UTech’s College of Business and Management, Paul Golding, was conducted among 2,200 students at different grade levels in high schools in every parish. The survey findings had a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent. “Sexting is happening,” Professor Golding affirmed. Boys were more likely to send nude or partially nude photos of themselves than girls, who were more likely to receive photos, Golding said.
“There seems to be a taboo about forwarding sex,” he noted. “If there is a relationship and I send you some half-naked picture, the expectation is that you should not forward it to someone else.” Only five per cent of students said they had shared images they received from someone else.
Notwithstanding the high level of sexting among teenagers, the study revealed that pornographic websites were not popular among teenagers. Only 3.3 per cent watched porn intentionally. Of those who viewed porn, most were boys and were in the age group of 16-18 years old.