Celebrity ‘sexting’ scandals is creating peer pressure on young men and women to send each other explicit pictures and messages, according to a new study.
Earlier this year, singer Rihanna was reportedly sending numerous flirtatious texts to bad-boy actor Colin Farrell.
In February 2010, Cheryl Cole finally divorced cheating hubby Ashley after discovering he had been sending racy snaps to other women.
And research suggests this new form of infidelity among the rich and famous is creating peer pressure on young men and women to share sexual images via their mobile phones.
“The phenomenon has become a focus of much media reporting, however research regarding the issue is in its infancy, and the voice of young people is missing from this discussion and debate,” the Daily Mail quoted researcher Shelley Walker, at the University of Melbourne in Australia, as saying.
The study involved individual interviews with 33 young people – 15 male and 18 female – aged between 15 and 20.
Preliminary findings revealed young people believed a highly sexualised media culture bombarded young people with sexualised images and created pressure to engage in sexting.
Young people discussed the pressure boys place on each other to have girls’ photos on their phones and computers.
They said if boys refrained from engaging in the activity they were labelled ‘gay’ or could be ostracised by the peer group.
Both genders talked about the pressure girls experienced from boyfriends or strangers to reciprocate on exchanging sexual images.
Some young women talked about the expectation to get involved in ‘sexting’ after viewing images of girls they knew.
All the youngsters talked about being sent or shown images or videos, sometimes of people they knew or of pornography without actually having agreed to look at it first.
“Sexting is a rapidly changing problem as young people keep up with new technologies such as using video and internet via mobile phones,” Walker said.
“Our study reveals how complex and ever-changing the phenomenon of sexting is and that continued meaningful dialogue is needed to address and prevent the negative consequences of sexting for young people,” she added.