Reading, UK – September, 2011 Take a second and type the word ‘Sexting’ into a search engine. You will be presented with numerous site suggestions offering advice on not begin caught, more effective words and phrases and Sexting examples, all clearly aimed at the adult market. If however you request ‘News’ articles then the results become much darker.
Some people mistakenly believe the practice of Sexting involves typing sexually explicit words and phrases in text messages. The reality is that it involves people, typically young, taking sexually explicit images and videos of themselves and sharing them via picture messaging on their phone.
The practice has now become so widespread that former CEO of Google Eric Schmidt speculated in an interview (1) ‘young adults in the future might need to change their names by deed poll so as to erase the digital evidence of their past and start afresh in the workforce’ . It is clear that young people do not understand that images created and then posted online are there forever and in many cases circulated virally around the internet.
In addition to potential future embarrassment, many young people are technically committing a breach of sexual offences legislation, and in some ludicrous cases have been charged. The State of Texas in the US reacted sensibly (2) and on Sept 1st a new law came into effect which recognised the offence as a misdemeanour. This more rational approach to the legislative aspect of the problem is to be applauded.In other cases Sexting has been used as a method to bully and harass vulnerable students and in some tragic cases this activity has led to suicide (3). Parents are struggling to keep up with the tide of technology and despite well intentioned advice, and guides (4) being more widely available, there surely needs to be a solution which alerts parents and guardians that there is an issue to be addressed.
Image Analyser has developed an accurate and easily deployed image and video scanning engine which can highlight images of a sexual nature. The company is actively seeking deployment partners in the parental control market sector with whom they can work to deliver an effective solution which is not based on text analysis but can flag inappropriate pictures. With the required information and early warning, parents and guardians can intervene and ensure young people are protected from their own actions or at the very least made aware of the consequences.
A sext out of context
Keeping children safe takes more than ‘POS’