James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Want to become a convicted sex offender? There’s an app for that

Posted by James McPherson on April 8, 2009

Apparently there’s a 20-percent chance that your teenager has engaged in “sexting”–using his or her cell phone to send nude or seminude photos to someone else. That could cost you thousands of dollars.

It also means your kid could end up in jail for a sex crime, or spend eternity on a list of register sex offenders for distributing child pornography. As cell phones and technology continue to improve, unfortunately, kids don’t get any smarter. Equally unfortnately, we parents and others old enough to know better haven’t gotten any better at figuring out how do deal with “kids gone bad.”

I’ve noted previously my aversion to certain forms of technology, and my concerns about uncertain definitions of what constitutes maturity. Perhaps nothing better illustrates the problems  resulting from the confluence of those two things than the “sexting” phenomenon. 

And nothing better illustrates why I’m glad such things as cell phones and Facebook didn’t exist when I was a kid. As a teenager I was no smarter than my peers then or my students of today. And you probably weren’t, either. For most of us–whether we choose to admit (or remember) it, or not–“getting lucky” has multiple meanings.

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7 Responses to “Want to become a convicted sex offender? There’s an app for that”

  1. Gabrielle said

    am i the only one who thinks that a teenager distributing or even OWNING underage pics of themselves nude should NOT be charged as ‘distributing child pornography?!’ it’s not CHILD porn, it’s TEEN ‘porn,’ ‘porn’ that they took THEMSELVES, with presumably full consent, unless they’re schizophrenic or something. there need to be consequences, yes, but different ones than you get for distributing pictures of naked five year olds.

  2. zelda said

    Porn is porn/ Maybe it’s a “lesson” that teens need to actually THINK about their responsibility to others? Those “teens” grow into adults ya know.
    What kind of adult do you want them to be eh?
    It’s kind of a behavior learned thing.
    Maybe they will be the ones actually INTO child porn one day if they don’t get the idea now.

  3. James McPherson said

    “Porn is porn.” Well, OK, but what is porn? Most of us agree that pornography is bad. The problem is, outside of child porn, we (society as a whole) have been unable to define what it is.

    For example, are all X-rated movies pornographic? “Midnight Cowboy” won the Academy Award for best picture, but was rated X. Yet is also was less graphic than many television shows are today. Is a Super Bowl halftime show flash of Janet Jackson’s bare breast porn? I was more offended by the lyrics and the bumping and grinding that came before the “wardrobe malfunction” than I was by the incident itself.

    I wasn’t particularly offended by George Carlin’s famous “seven words.” I was more offended that I paid a bunch of money to see him live at a point in his career (a point where too many comedians start out) where he was too often letting cheap profanity take the place of the insightful social commentary. Rick Steeves complains that he can’t show some of the great art he sees in Europe (including in churches) on American television–yet other countries censor out some of our “pornographic” violence.

    As for “What kind of adult do you want them to be?” for me that goes to the key question suggested above (and discussed in more detail in one of the linked posts): When and how do we decide that someone is “an adult”?

  4. zelda said

    I took it for granted that you would have at the very least, a foggy idea of the answers to your own questions.
    Wrong again.

  5. […] that doesn’t involve kids’ text charges, “Dateline” predators, or  ”sexting.” Alas, the kid is obviously in trouble, and probably should be: After all, if the network […]

  6. […] Want to become a convicted sex offender? There’s an app for that […]

  7. […] you can take you "informed consent" witcha and wake up to the realities of the situation. Want to become a convicted sex offender? There’s an app for that James McPherson’s Media… Is your preteen or teen having sex? Are you sure? – Answers – CafeMom HELP!!!! I CAUGHT MY 13 Y.O […]

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