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Sexting It Up

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For children and adolescents in the contemporary moment, the eroticism of technology is intuitive and unremarkable. The growing ubiquity of cell-phone and computer technology makes media crucial for relationships and status among peers. Children and adolescents also seek sexual education and interactions via cyber communication. In this social milieu, the phenomenon of sexting has dominated public discourse and engendered a widespread moral panic of regulation and proselytism. Yet children and teenagers view sexting in terms of intimacy and safe sex; for them, sexted images are avatars affording them liberties otherwise inaccessible to them. I use Julia Kristeva’s notion of abjection to examine the symbolic annihilation of children’s sexuality in most societies and the consequent appeal of the taboo in the sexted image. But I also note the potential harms when sexted images enter public space: the sexuality of children is fraught with danger in the adult world.

Portions of this chapter appeared in “Children’s Technologized Bodies: Mapping Mixed Realities,” in The Routledge International Handbook of Children, Adolescents, and the Media, ed. Dafna Lemish (New York: Routledge, 2013), pp. 156–163. These sections are reprinted with permission.

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Durham, M.G. (2016). Sexting It Up. In: Technosex. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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