Teen Safety Alert: "Think Before You Press Send"

Teen Safety Alert: "Think Before You Press Send"

Manitoba News Release

February 8, 2011

SEXTING NEW THREAT TO TEXT-MESSAGE SAFETY, NEEDS TEEN, PARENT AWARENESS: MACKINTOSH

In the wake of the phenomenal rise in texting by teens as a main way to communicate with each other, there is a serious risk to youth who send nude photos, Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh said today.

Mackintosh urged teens to “think before you press send.”

Today is international Safer Internet Day, which reminds parents of the importance of teaching their children about online safety.

“The average young person is now sending almost 3,500 texts in a month. This was unheard of a few years ago,” Mackintosh said. “Along with this sea change comes a serious threat to the safety of teens who send each other sexual images of themselves, a practice called sexting. The images can end up online forever and cause a myriad of problems from humiliation to extortion, criminal sanctions and suicide. One American study indicated that 20 per cent of teens say they have participated in sexting.”

Teens and parents must become more aware of the importance of safe texting on cell phones with built-in cameras, said Mackintosh. Specifically, he added, teens must commit to never sending nude photos of themselves or others and parents should take a key role teaching their children about safe texting. The minister urged Manitobans to log onto www.textED.ca, a new interactive website where they can learn about the short-term costs and the long-term ramifications of texting.

Created by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, textED.ca is designed to teach teens to be safe, responsible and respectful users of texting technologies.

“Adolescent behaviour is less inhibited with the use of technology, so they tend to say and do things that they might not otherwise do in person. While technology allows today’s youth to connect with each other in amazing ways, when it is misused, disrespected or abused it can lead to difficult situations and consequences,” said Lianna McDonald, executive director of the centre. “TextED.ca will help teach teens how to use technology safely and to know what to do when someone crosses the line.”

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

TEXTING STATISTICS

  • In Canada, 4.6 billion peer-to-peer text messages were sent in June 2010.  This was a 10 per cent increase over the 4.2 billion messages sent in March 2010.
  • The total number of person-to-person text messages sent during the first six months of 2010 was 25.7 billion, 73 per cent of the 2009 total of 35.3 billion.
  • In June 2010, Canadians sent an average of 154.1 million messages per day.  This was up from the average of 135.4 million messages per day in March 2010.

(Source:  Canadian Wireless Telecommunictions Association)

TEEN TEXTING STATISTICS

  • The average teen sends 3,339 texts per month.  That’s more than six texts per waking hour.
  • Female teens aged 13 to 17 send an average of 4,050 texts per month while male teens in the same age group send an average of 2,539 texts per month.
  • These teens are sending eight times more texts than they were this time last year.
  • Other age groups don’t come close to this level of texting.  The average 18 to 24 year old sends only 1,650 texts per month.  The average drops further with other age groups.

(Source:  The Nielsen Company study released October 2010)

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