Sandra Wekesa @PeopleDailyKE
Brian Ngeitich, a university student, cannot wait to get to his hostel after school. It is not because he wants to finish his assignments, which have been piling up for weeks; he wants to get on his phone and engage in some virtual sex with his girlfriend.
This new preoccupation of sexting has literally taken over his life. In class he is absent-minded and does not like going out with his friends. Even during holidays he spends most of his time in his room sexting.
He justifies this by saying that he is not engaging in the actual act and he is, therefore, not hurting anyone. Sexting is colloquial reference to the act of using suggestively construed text messages via phone to invite or entice the recipient of the texts into a sexual mindset with the ultimate aim of engaging or indulging them in the descriptively suggested acts.
Two types of sexting are the mild, almost conventional suggestiveness that is shared between established or anticipatory lovers and the lewd, almost repulsive vulgarity that is the hallmark of the deviant mind. The easy availability of phones and Internet means people can send or receive suggestive photos and messages via social media sites such as Facebook and Whatsapp from the privacy of their homes.
According to a research by Catholic University of Eastern Africa, titled Cell Phone Sexting And Its Influence On Adolescence Sexual Behaviour In Nairobi County, Kenya, mobile phone owners range from ages 16 to 24 and are frequent users of text messages. In a typical day 46 per cent of this age are reported to be sending text messages.
They also found out that most of the time girls text more than boys and in many cases the form of communications they use is sexting. The research indicated that 65 per cent of high school adolescents send or receive sex messages daily.
At least 25 per cent received sex messages weekly while eight per cent sent or received sex messages rarely. The final observation was about two per cent never received messages at all. Approximately 3,000 people sext in general. It is not only students who are engaging in sexting.
Victor Munyasia, an information technology technician at a local bank, says: “Many girls in the office store erotic photos and videos for themselves in the company computer. This at times is disturbing because we end up downloading the videos on our gadgets for further reference.”
Ken Ouko, a sociologist, strongly believes there exist various reasons for sexting, chief of which is the playful nature of the human mind that is socialised not to find open verbal expression, but effortlessly inclines towards electronic indulges. “Sexting allows one to say what would amount to socially offensive speech. Another common reason for sexting is personality typology.
The two types of persons most likely to indulge in sexting are the shy, laid back personalities on the one end and the degenerative deviants who hide behind the electronic veil to actualise their wickedness on the other end,” he says. He strongly believes that anyone can indulge in sexting even though it is more concentrated among the youth aged between 16 and 24 years.
“The millennial generation has become so date-lazy that they hardly conform to the traditionally sanctified timelines and the socially logical sequences of dating,” he says. Catholic University of Eastern Africa psychologist, Stephen Asatsa says the consequences of sexting are dire.
This can be understood by first understanding adolescents, who are mainly sexters, and their needs. “Adolescents start seeing the personal benefits of rules rather than look at them as parents’ rules. This develops if their critical skills are nurtured. If suppressed they develop rebellion.
The values they pick in adolescence define who they become in adulthood and become more permanent. He says parents are shying away from educating adolescents on sex and sexuality, posing a danger to their growing minds.
“The relatively wrong information and myths on sex they access through sexting from their peers may end up becoming their permanent values,” says Asatsa.
He says the faulty image about sex conditions their brain to dysfunctional sexual relationship that might affect future relationships. Asatsa who was involved in the study by Catholic University of East Africa says sexting was associated with pornography, multiple sex partners and frequent sexual intercourse.
These are known to contribute to various mental health complications such as low self-esteem, addiction, depression and increased risk of contracting HIV/Aids.
“Uncensored graphic information on sex through pornography is writing permanent values on the minds of these developing adolescents. The brain structure too stands to be affected as addiction is reinforced by production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for excitement,” he says.