Friday, January 30, 2009

Cell phone porn - accident?

This is a really disturbing story. The very short synopsis is this: a Utah man recently took a pornographic picture of himself with his cell phone and attempted to send it to his girlfriend. He allegedly mistyped the number, however, and ended up sending the image to a teenage girl.

Now, one can argue the merits here - for instance, why was he typing in his girlfriends phone number - wouldn't she be in his address book already? However, that is not the point of this blog post. There have been several incidents in recent months where teens are sharing innappropriate images via their cell phones - I even blogged about that problem on this page last year. In those cases, the kids themselves were inappropriatly using the technology they had been entrusted with. This is different, however - distribution of pornographic images to a minor who in no way requested or showed any interest in the image in the first place.

At issue in the news story is whether this should be considered a crime, or whether it should be treated a an "honest mistake". Reading through the comments to that story show very clearly how this is not a cut-and-dried situation for many people. For me, however, it seems pretty black and white: whether it was a mistake or not, the individual distributed pornography to a minor, and should be punished for it. If you want to distribute that sort of content, be more careful about how you do it.

There are many corollaries in our legal system already: you cannot distribute alchohol to a minor, you cannot sell them cigarettes, and you cannot sell them pornographic magazines. Whether you do it intentionally, or just "forget" to check their ID, it doesn't matter - you are still guilty of a crime.

Similarly, if one hits someone with their car and kills the individual, there are consequences. Intent determines whether that person is charged with murder or manslaughter, but either way there are consequences.

In the case of the cell phone porn, if intent cannot be proven, there should still be some legal recourse, and the individual should have some sort of punishment.

For me, there are two lessons to be learned here:

1. For those who want to use their cell phone to share innappropriate photos with others - take extra care to ensure you are only sending it to your intended recipient. If you don't you will be punished via the law (I hope).

2. For parents who give their minor children cell phones (I am one of those, by the way), don't assume that because your children won't put themselves in a situation to recieve innapropriate images, that it won't happen. Stay very close to their usage of technology, and maintain an open dialog with them so they will tell you when this happens.

Whether it is on the cell phone, Internet, television or any other technology - our children will see things that we wish they wouldn't. As parents, we need to ensure that they will tell us when they do, so we can limit the undesirable affects of exposure to this content, and help them avoid it in the future.

The mom in the above story summed it up when she said: "This type of stuff didn't happen when I was a kid." You are right. Our children are growing up in a very different world than we did. It requires different parenting than we recieved.

2 comments:

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Larry said...

Hi I have read your comment on "Cell phone porn - accident?". Its really an important and serious topic.I like your thought.nowadays use of cell phone.Kids (and adults) by their nature have always made mistakes; errors and corrections of all sorts are features of the maturation process. However, when those errors have far reaching consequences that could have major effects on their lives and enter the realm of illegality, they become much more problematic than merely staying out beyond curfew.If young teens don't believe that those pictures they send to their one true love may very well become available to a few billion people then maybe they should return to the fantasy world of their Barbies and allow their parents to return to the world of sanity.To get more details visit us:- Cash4Phones.com.Thanks a lot good job keep it up