One-third of youths have engaged in "sexting."
By "youth" they mean ages 14-24, so I'm included there, despite my increasing lack of resemblance to a wide-eyed apple-cheeked little innocent. It's fun to refocus the entire article with this in mind, and read sentences like "[Women] were more likely to share a naked image of themselves than [men], and those who are already sexually active were much more likely to send an image than those who were not sexually active." Already! At 24! I know, I'm the shame of my family. Hell, this entire blog is a truly malignant example of inappropriate youth behavior. Perhaps I'll kill myself: "About 12 percent of those who engaged in sexting activity have contemplated suicide, though the survey didn’t attempt to deduce if the suicidal thoughts were related to the often negative consequences of sexting."
(Fun fact: According to the World Health Organization, 15.3% of all Americans have contemplated suicide. Clearly sexting has protective effects.)
Beyond the definition of "youth" as an age group that's more than half legal adults, my other beef with this type of teen-sexting-panic article is that it's only describing a natural evolution of behaviors that kids have done since the dawn of time. Post-pubescent humans are horny, stop the presses.
The problem isn't that the kids are getting naked; the problem is that the kids might not be aware how permanent and shareable the record of their nakedness is. Kids (and, um, 24-year-olds) may have played "show me yours I'll show you mine" since genitals were invented, but the ability to then go and show hers to all your buddies has been expanded by technology. This is what kids need to hear: not that sexting is "inappropriate" or it'll make you suicidal but that it makes it easier for the whole school to see your junk.
(Total digression: I always hated it when I was a teenager and adults called sexual or vulgar behavior "inappropriate," without specifying what situation it was inappropriate for. If it's not appropriate when I'm off the clock in my own home, maybe appropriateness isn't your real concern. Jerks.)
In the long run, what's going to happen is saturation. When everything is digitally recorded, everyone will have filthy pictures out there; and when everyone is naked on the Internet, it'll stop being a big deal. I look forward to the day when "she took off her pants on the Internet" is about as exciting a news as "she took off her pants in her bedroom."
I also look forward to the day when people respond to "boyfriend shows whole school his girlfriend's crotch" stories with "that asshole boyfriend" rather than "that sexting slut!"