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Prof: Kids 'sexting' isn't new behavior

May 26, 2009 at 2:33 PM

OTTAWA, May 26 (UPI) -- A Canadian social sciences professor says the uproar over youth sending sexually charged text messages, or "sexting," is overblown.

Speaking at the international Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences this week at Ottawa's Carleton University, Dr. Peter Cumming, an associate professor at York University and coordinator of its Children's Studies Program, said youth are doing what they've done all along using new technology.

Cumming said several cases in the United States have made the news when teenagers sent semi-nude pictures of themselves or others over cell phones.

"It would be very unlikely to see dozens of news stories announcing that some children we caught playing spin-the-bottle, or doctor, or strip poker," he said. "Yet many of the cases brought forward have been on the same level of innocence and experience as those activities."

He said the uproar about sexting is just the modern version of the outrage in the 1950s about the way Elvis Presley moved provocatively on stage.

"The big bad wolf right now is the Internet and cell phones with cameras," he said. "What I would say to anyone is to take a deep breath, think in context, and use common sense."

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